Hey everyone, I hope that you are all enjoying your day. I thought I would interrupt you with this fantastic reflection sent to me by a close friend and brother. Here is a reverend father’s reflective account of what it was like to visit Lourdes in France. I think that apart from being excellently written, it also presents a review of what it is like to make the pilgrimage. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!   …and so, the account begins…   *MY STAY IN LOURDES*     I arrived Lourdes on Thursday, 5th March, 2020 about 8pm, had dinner at a restaurant near to my lodge after which I went straight to my lodge (Hotel d’alliance), I prayed and rested.     On Friday, it rained all through and hail stones like crumbs welcomed me. I attended three masses. English mass in the chapel of St John Vianney, French mass under the rock where Mary appeared to Bernadette and another French mass at the Basilica of the Immaculate conception.  It was a wet day and the weather was acutely chilly.     The mass under the rock of the apparition was very engaging and powerful because the atmosphere evokes a divine presence, one could feel the abiding presence of our Most Blessed Mother.     After that I recorded three reflections titled the Ninveites experience, part 1, 2 and 3. I also visited the underground Basilica of Pope Pius, prayed the rosary while walking around and lit candles in the candle house for intentions of those who asked me for prayers. Had rice and fish at a Burkina Faso restaurant and went to my lodge to pray and rest.     On Saturday, 7th March, I joined English rosary at 8:30am, attended mass at 9am. Recorded a reflection on the 14 stations of the cross. I am so grateful to God for this. I also recorded a video titled “child,  behold your mother. ”     After this, I prayed the 14 stations on the hill, it was very spiritual and enriching too. I offered it for God’s mercy on humankind and to put an end to the Corona epidemic. Also for those affected by it directly, those at risk and those who have died.     After this, I went in for the water service which was conducted in place of the pool bath at the piscino because of the Corona epidemic. After, I did some shopping outside the ground, had pizza and went home to pray and rest.     On Sunday, I concelebrated mass in the English chapel. Did a bit of shopping, prayed at the grotto for intentions of those whom I have promised to pray for, lit some candles  and then checked out of the hotel, went to Toulouse and then flew back to Heathrow, London.     Over and above all, I am very happy that I went at a more quiet period, normal pilgrimage is April to October. The panic caused by the plague also made the whole of Lourdes more depleted than normal. However, it was very good for me, for my prayers, meditation and recording.     Although the weather was very chilly, I found Lourdes to be very atmospheric and compelling, the presence of our Lady is very vivid. I wish I could stay more days, every day was inexplicably beautiful and I came back more renewed, refreshed and blessed.   Written by Reverend Father Emmanuel Okami   Thanks for reading


Today I learnt a new type of meditation known as visualisation.   Within it, I was asked to visualise my favourite place. A place I would transport myself to in my mind’s eye. So that i can visual-eyes it.   When I pondered, I realised that there was no other place I wanted to be in. It was not a holiday , it was not a beach it was not with anyone … but it was with you… my family.   You see, to visualise is to don visual-eyes that locate you wherever you are. So that even …   When eyes cannot see you, my loving eyes see you.   When your presence cannot be felt, my heart feels your warmth.   When you are far ‍♀️ and I cannot physically hear you, my ears hear you.   That’s why in my mind, we remain one and inseparable as it is always meant to be.   I carry you In my heart everywhere I go. I visualise you. I look within and I see you.   Your presence comforts me.   It envelopes me and guides my actions.   Though distance may build walls around us, in my heart, I feel the warmth of your love.   It transcends time and space and locates me even when my heart yearns for a moment with you.   The happiest memories of my life are forged within the nest of love that you create with your presence in my life.   Right here in my heart, as it was many years ago, i find my home with you, deep within my heart. I suddenly realise that you have been with me the whole time.   As I visual-eyes I pluck the courage to bask within the nest of peace that I will always call home.   Thank you for reading. Photo credit: Pixabay  

Poem: I see👁 you

Hello everyone,   I wanted to share this poem with you today. I feel happy because when I wrote this poem, I was feeling many emotions.   I was supporting a friend…. being there for her so that she could be more strengthened to support her child. We said so many things and I could relate with many of her fears.   Mothers…and fathers too … are strong people and sometimes, we worry when we set our babies free. Children grow up so quickly and we can sometimes feel lost when this prospect lands at our doorstep. Today, she sent me a message saying that all went well with her child. I praise God for her. She let me share a small part of this huge journey with her child. This poem is my gift to her…to you…and to all who look after a child. I have titled the poem “Love cradled”. I feel that the love for a child begins in this way from a mother’s perspective.     Love cradled  Despite the pain and anguish of bearing a child. A mother’s love lingers. Through sickness, hunger in the midst of plenty. Voraciousness despite satiety. Cravings, distaste, tiredness, tears, triumphs. A mother’s love tarries. Waiting to behold the one who nature crafts meticulously. Who the dawn of each passing day brings closer to perfection. Love nurtured Then the d day arrives. The long awaited bundle of joy comes squealing with lungs of steel. Announcing an arrival like no other. Mother hopes for the best. As each passing day reveals the extent of personality, strength, weakness, hope, bleakness, brightness encased within the bundle of joy. Mother nurtures what nature brings. Trying her best to make the best out of this raw love nature befit    Hoping to present a masterpiece to add to the sea of personalities that fill the world Love surrendered  Hoping the best has been done. Mother releases that which she has spent day and night nurturing. Have I done right? Have I done enough? Mother wonders. But time will tell. If the strength residing within the special joy bundle mixes rightly  with mother’s lessons. Or if with pride misguides and misdirects what mother intended. But only time can tell.  Only in time will we know But we are reassured that the apples never roll far from the tree. Iron sharpens iron and no one ever planted corn and reaped cassava. So… trust that mother’s child will be like her.   

A Poem for you titled : Love Cradled

One thing I know for sure is that it takes a lot of self-will to look after ones self.   …Trust me!   This self-love business is actually no joke I tell you. Healthy eating, exercise, self-kindness and acceptance and so on.   They are all easier said than done.   Recently, I decided to be more intentional about the application of these concepts to my everyday life. I had been in this self-love game for the past 4 years.   Eating well… going on daily walks… accepting myself for who I am…and… being kinder to myself.   But right now, I just feel like it has become so boring. Like, I am used to it all. It has all become so predictable, so normal.   To prove to you that I am right, my scales have begun to stall. Like my weight has just simply frozen. It is not going up or down despite my efforts to take it down south. It’s like every cell in my body can feel the ubiquitous nature of this whole business.   On a positive note…   They do say that maintaining your current weight is an achievement in itself. But I say, that you only feel that achievement if that is your aim for yourself.   I have now officially decided to spice things up. Increase my workouts, eat better and hopefully moan a bit less about….stuff.   When I decided to implement them, my spirit was all fired up but I could feel every ounce of me protesting. I did not want to do the extra exercise, or make the smarter eating choices. I was literally shaking from being deprived of my cravings and angry about leaving my comfort zone.   But I can do this! I have got this!   I just have to stay strong. The end always justifies the means. I am an achiever. We all are. We are more than mere conquerors. Nothing good comes easily. No pain no gain. There will be light at the end of the tunnel. God is in control.   Loving ourselves is an act of loving God. Looking after us is an act of respect because our bodies are temples where the Holy Spirit dwells.   We only have one life and one body to live it in. We must do everything within our power to make the right choices to suit our physical bodies. No one would love you better than you will.   No one will love me better than I will… hmmm….     I should be my priority. The love I attract will depend a lot on the way I lovingly uphold myself. I am special in the eyes of God and so I believe that he will strengthen my desire to care better for my self because this is a good plan and his plan for me is of good and not of evil.   Do you know that..   He came into this world so that you can live your life more abundantly?   Looking after youbetter is a way of enabling the power of that abundance of Ife to simply be activated within you.   Praise the name of the Lord for grace and strength. We are weak because it is in our nature as mortal men to be weak… to be victims of our own whims and decisions. Therefore let us look to God for strength because through him we are able to do all things.   I know that God will exceed the expectations you have set in this and all areas of your life … Amen.   Just stay on track!   Thank you for reading.   Photo Credit: Pixabay

From size NO to size YES: The flesh is weak

To whom much is given, much is expected!   I have now been officially given the chance to fight for my Licence. I feel like the final countdown has begun. But the expectation is massive. I feel inundated with tasks. The game has been raised but I am still the same. So how on earth can I cope?   In my head, I am officially undertaking “The climb” and trust me it feels scary.   Recently, my OH impressed something important in my life. It was like a gift…his words to me.   “You have to trust yourself”he began, “If you are in doubt of your abilities my child, then look at your history, within it lies your track record. You have always in the past felt numbed by challenges. But they never stopped you. In fact you always proved that the hottest part of the day brought out the adder. You have never really thrived without stress. It is like the pumping adrenaline has always propelled you. You have thought way more clearly under pressure than you ever have in calm situations. But my child, you have always started with what I see as stage fright. You were built for this challenge. Your whole decision to train for this licence has led to this year- this final countdown and road to success. I trust you my darling. You have never failed before and I know you will not start now. Just look inside of you for that strength”.   As he finished what sounded like a knight’s battle speech (a bit like something Archilles would have told the soldiers in troy),I sighed. All I could think of was ‘Psyching! babe don’t let these sweet words deceive you o!. Year 3 is not a joke o. Look at all the tasks and hurdles that lie ahead.I almost began to cry. I am coming to this man for support and he is here telling me all this.   Support…the word rang out like a keyword in my head. Support…   Isn’t that what he was doing? What was I even expecting him to say? Confirm my fears and then give me permission to quit, hang my boot and run? These feelings were like fight, flight or freeze response. I had encountered what my brain perceived as danger and I was in panic mode.   Girl, that is quite normal…   The worst thing to do right now would be to brush my feelings under the carpet. Talking about them was a good way of confronting them head on. There are hardly any confrontational experiences that are exciting. Self-confrontation was no exception. If anything, they were worse because one could not escape oneself.   I have got this…   I said to myself, reciting it endlessly like a mantra.   It is the climb….my climb.   No one climbs a mountain with one step from bottom to top. It is inconceivable to approach a mountain climb that way. It would make it impossible. That is exactly what I felt like I was erroneously doing.   But look at all the tasks that lie ahead…   Making my license aspiration about all the tasks that lay ahead was like focussing on the summit and looking only at all the height above, then contemplating climbing that height in one step.   Mountains are climbed with many steps…   Many strategic steps.   So first, we look at the whole mountain- the task Next, we work out a strategy- A plan. Within that plan, we tactfully break the whole process down into manageable steps that our feet can carry us through. We then accept that although it would not always be easy that would not make the process impossible.   In addition, we have to build in rests into our plan, to enable us rejuvenate ourselves when we are weak. We also need play, to keep us motivated. Lifelines will be good for times when we are struggling as well as being prepared to stay safe because we do not know what lies ahead. Finally, we ensure that our eyes are focussed on the top and avoid any distractions that may derail us from the summit.   Thinking about things this way, I immediately began to feel less anxious. It made sense.   This final road might be plied with herculean tasks but that does not make it an impossible road to travel….   I needed to get a calendar and spread out those tasks into steps with timelines to give me visual cues. The cues would serve as a map, a guide through my year. I was equal to this task. The university would not set me the challenge if they felt I was incapable.   Sometimes when we are in doubt of ourselves, we look outwards to find cues that help rekindle our self believe….   If my OH, my family and friends and even the university thought that I could do this, they could not all be wrong.   I would need to be extremely disciplined to keep myself on track.   One right step at a time and I would get there. By the grace of God like OH said, I had done similar stressful things before so I would do it again. He was not deceiving me with those words. The evidence lay buried deep within my history and I was about to add to that history.   So do you know what? Bring it on…Here I come…I am all fired up!   Not really!!!! Hahahah…   The good news though, is that I am more positive than I was at the start of this write up. That is a good thing.   So yeah, have you ever been in this position with anything in your life? Tell me what got you through it? How did you cope? I can think of very many ways to cope if I was not so anxious. Thankfully, I have you all for support. Please […]

Nursing Diaries: The Climb (Final Countdown)

Loosing an article that I have written is a bit like losing a piece of me….   I pour myself into each article that I write. I don’t even know why I write sometimes. It is just an extension of my personality that I feel fortunate to possess the ability to express.   Sometimes I wish that all I did with my life was – write. I could do that you see, but maybe I haven’t yet figured out how to make it worthwhile.   Words have form and shape to me whether they are said out loud or written. That’s why I can’t stand it when people swear.   It’s not just about being polite but I literally see blood being splattered every time people prefix their statements with … bloody.   The worst is the F word.   I work around with images of coitus as the person speaks and vomits it within every statement. It’s hard to explain how upsetting it is to condone the psychological images people build into simple conversations.   So back to the article I lost which I was telling you about…..   So I said I love writing, remember?   Well, I can never really understand it when someone tells me that they are unable to write. I guess it is the same way that I can write that they can’t write. In my head, I just feel that if you can have an opinion and possess cognitive ability, then you should be able to write.   Right?   I guess I am wrong though because it may not be so easy.  Let’s use my husband as a case study. He never likes talking or over exerting himself.   A sort of cool dude.   So one day I asked him why he had constantly refused to come out of his shell.   “Well, there is no shell to come out of”,he said.   “How can you climb out of a shell if you yourself are the shell? Imagine if I asked you to be quiet and sit still how will you feel?”   “No way!”I screamed. “That’s impossible”.   “Aha!, do you see how you feel right this minute that you contemplated my “sit still” request?”,he asked   “Yes”,I said   “That’s exactly how I feel when you ask me to be as vibrant as you are”.   Hmmm…   That gave me some perspective. I have stopped asking that of him or anyone for that matter. People must all be allowed to exist and express themselves in the way that suits them.   So….Yes!   I digressed again as I always do.   I was telling you about how I wrote a juicy article this afternoon and somehow lost it. Well, that reminded me about when I lost another article in the past.   It was my portfolio assigment at university.   Oh that one was horrible.   I was set an assignment with 3 sets of tasks.   One was a 2500 word essay, a 15minute narrated powerpoint and another 2500 essay with appraisal forms.   I toiled to produce that portfolio.   I also decided in my very finite wisdom not to write any draft in a book first but to type it straight into my laptop. That was me finally succumbing to pressure. Everyone seemed to laugh at my out dated style of always writing in books before typing up my work.   I wanted to save time and it did feel good to type the work directly. Sadly, as my luck turned out, on the day I decided to save the final copy of the essay, I made a booboo.   Listen to this…   Instead of control C (Copy), I pressed control A (Select all), hit the back space (Delete) and clicked on control S (save). Then in splits of seconds, 2 months of toil vanished.   Seriously, who does that?   I had not even saved any other copy elsewhere.   Oh…   I even had a draft in my flash drive but guess what? I could not find it!   The submission date was 2 weeks away.  I also had an anatomy and physiology exam tucked in between the submission date and me. It was such a horrible time.   I went to the lake and cried.  I spent the next 2 days crying. I felt so exhausted. Where was I going to start? I had even lost my reference list because it was all in the same document. After the 2 days of crying, I managed to shrink the submission date by 2 days.   Next morning, while brushing my teeth, I looked in the mirror at my red eyes and thought   ….hey girl, you can’t just fail!   That was how I summoned the courage, plucked the strength and started all over again.   To this day, I feel that the new essay I produced was better than the first one. I learnt so much about myself doing that portfolio.   I learnt that I was resilient, a fighter and that I could not just accept defeat. I became very creative and my speed was super.   Who needs an easy life when we can use pressure and stress as free fuel eh?   Last minute essays are bad for you especially if you have not previously done any reading. But you knew that already didn’t you?   So although that ended well…   Let’s come back again to the juicy article I wrote this afternoon and managed to lose   That’s a different matter. An essay is academic and can have a happy ending when it is lost. But can an article enjoy the same fate?   An article is metalking without moving my lips.   Reporting what has happened or what I am thinking via a piece of paper/ media- whichever way you want to describe it. It’s very hard to get the second take of the article to be as emotive as the first one …I think. I have lost a piece of […]

Nursing Diaries: Losing a piece of work

Oh dear tell me about it! Way before the start of this placement, I had caught the blues. Like seriously, I was so nervous about going into this placement one would have thought that I was in year 1. I had been to a fantastic placement before this one. I remember wishing that it was the final placement. I had bonded with but staff and patients. I felt like I had found my rhythm there. Then the next thing I knew, bam! it was over. 14weeks flew by so quickly it was unreal. Now harsh realities were kicking in. I was previously in a forensic setting, now I was going into an acquired brain injury setting. I did not know what to expect. I was more worried about the mentor than I cared to admit. Would my mentor be ok? Will it be a he or a she? Will we gel? Guess what, this was the placement that counted towards my final classification. A lot was just riding on it. We simply had to get along if I had any dream of passing. After the first day, I was even more anxious because my mentor was not available. So after all that anxiety, I did not get any questions answered. I was still like the proverbial chicken perching on one foot. Only by the time I got home both  the foot I was perching with and the one I had in the air were hurting. I knew that I had to be patient and let the days flow. So here are some of the things that helped me Disconnect from old placement relationships: Although it is difficult, it is important as a student nurse to learn how to disconnect psychologically and emotionally for the old placement. This would help you to be a blank slate ready to take on all the challenges and joys of the new placement. Nursing itself is all about building relationships. However, in my opinion, less is being taught about disconnecting from old relationships. It is alright to long for old relationships. But acknowledge these feelings and move on. Avoid comparison: This is a bit difficult to achieve after a fantastic experience. It just feels like every other placement will not rival the last one. However, it is important to judge each placement area on their own merit. Avoid comparisons. Things are not always the way that they seem. Just because a placement area is all I.T savvy and paperless does not mean that the new one filled with endless paperwork is not as good. Help yourself begin to see the benefits of being in the new placement by avoiding comparison. Give yourself time to get to know everyone: Time is always key. Remember that it took you all those weeks to build all the relationships in the old placement which you now long for. With time, you will start to get used to the rhythm of the new placement. When getting to know everyone, include staff not just patients. Remember, in the new area, they may have their culture, language and communication style. Expect that when coming to join a new team, there may be a few niggles. It’s all part of the adjustment process. Don’t write people off if they annoy you. Things may improve if you give it a chance. Read care plans: Within the first few weeks of arriving a new placement, make it a point of duty to begin to read patients’ care plans. This would give you in-depth evidence based information peculiar to the patients. It will inform you about the prescribed methods of care that have been agreed with the patients. Following the plans will also reduce friction between you and the patients when you start assisting with their care. Ask questions; Don’t forget that you are there to learn. Ask as many questions as you have. It is better than just trying and making mistakes especially if you are not sure. Build rapport with staff so that they can guide you. Be open to correction: Don’t take things personal when you are corrected. Take all criticism positively. Ignore negativity directed at you. Remember that some people communicate badly. They mean well but it may just come out wrongly. Learn to take the positives and fling away the negatives. Smile: Smile always. A smile gives you a positive aura and draws people to you. a smile gives you a welcoming attitude. A smile cheers you up when things get though.   I did all these things and now, in week 2, I am having a great time. By the time my mentor arrived, I had managed to overcome my initially skeptical attitude. So these tips actually work! Thank you for reading. Photo Credit: Pixabay You may also find other articles in this series useful. Please click here

Nursing Diaries: 7 ways to overcome the placement blues

Learning disability nursing is a branch of nursing that tends to be understated. People with learning disabilities are as deserving of our compassionate care as the rest of our patients. Having a learning disability means that a person has a difficulty learning, understanding and acquiring  new skills. These may be social, intellectual and daily skills (MENCAP). As a result they may be slower and need lots of help and support with daily tasks. This does not mean that they cannot learn. The existence of this learning impairment means that a different approach needs to be used when delivering care and support to them. We are told in all the texts to avoid labelling people because every person is unique. The fact that people have learning disabilities does not mean that they are all the same. It does not also mean that a one size fits all approach will be suitable when delivering their care. Nurses need to be mindful during nurse-patient interaction because care delivery must be tailored to suit each patient as a unique individual. Patience, compassion and support should underlie every interaction that nurses enter with each patient especially when they have a unique way of interacting based on the existence of a learning disability. I was privileged to work on an end of life care ward for people with learning disabilities and mental health. It was surreal to see the elderly experience very life limiting conditions. The learning disabilities they possessed exacerbated the ability of staff to understand their needs. It also affected the extent of tailoring required to keep the care delivered person centred. The level of complexity experienced by the patients due to their severe physical health decline meant that lots of activities needed to be performed to keep the patients safe and comfortable. As a result, there was a high risk of adopting a blind approach to individualising care. Many of the patients had sensory needs, speech impairments, physical disabilities and mobility needs. The tasks had to be performed in a timely manner to maximise their health outcomes. It appeared as though attempting to personalise care could have made the tasks more cumbersome. It was difficult to support the individual wishes of patients because at times, especially when their mental states declined, it was sometimes nearly impossible to uphold their wishes. The nurses often experienced dilemmas when attempting to meet the patient’s unique demands. It was difficult to determine if it was really a patient’s desire to be cared for in a certain way when they were not very coherent? Did they fully understand the implications of some of their requests? Were these requests in their best interest? For example balancing the need to support the oral fluid intake of a dysphagic patient when they were declining water. I was a student nurse with minimal experience within a setting as such. I felt paralysed as I contemplated the enormity of the tasks I was to perform alongside staff. I wondered why my university had decided to send me there. As far as I was concerned, it was too early in my nursing programme to be there. I had only theoretical skills from all we had been taught at university. Surely, a slow admittance into this reality would have been better for me. I had never seen as massive a trolley as I beheld in the clinic room. How on earth was I to know where all the medicines were? Perhaps a ward with fewer patients, less hustle and bustle would have been best. As I came into the placement daily, I was very withdrawn. The more I allowed my inner fears hold me back, the more I sunk psychologically. I soon began to experience the fight, flight or freeze response. I was sweaty, thirsty and could feel the micturition bells ringing as soon as I arrived at the start of my shift. Luckily, one of the staff noticed my demeanor. With a warm smile, she took me under her wing. I spent the first few days on the side shadowing staff as they delivered this challenging care. I saw that how looking beyond the disease and finding the person shrouded by illness transformed the care. They were able to wait patiently for patients to communicate and valued the smallest non-verbal movements made by each patient. I saw first hand how all I had learnt at university came to life in practice. I learnt the importance of seeking consent before procedures and respecting patients’ personal spaces. I saw the theory of communication was brought to life. I remembered how McCabe and Timmins (2006) emphasised a lot in their text about how non-verbal communication was as important as verbal communication. For these patients, it was very true. Many of them were non-verbal and for some who could speak, they had varying levels of cognitive abilities, which impacted on their speech quality and content. In addition, I learnt to value every form of communication including when patients withdrew from communication. Frustration, exhaustion or satiety sometimes explained why patients withdrew from communication. It was important to be mindful of these reasons while accepting patients right to decline interaction, participation or stimulation. The unintentional nature of some forms of communication does not undermine their relevance as communication especially for patients with learning disabilities. I learnt not only to decipher these aspects but to practice different evidence based communication and care delivery techniques. Today, I am thankful for the opportunity I had within the setting that scared me at first. I now know first-hand that the practice learning opportunity is truly a valuable part of the nurse training. However, it is important that student nurses should take charge of their learning. Participating in care delivery under supervision is one of the ways to overcome the psychological barriers that may keep students from practicing their ability to care for patients. The demands on services can sometimes mean that students feel pressured to perform activities of care for patients when they do not feel ready. However, care must be taken by students not to allow fear stop the student from seeking out […]

Nursing diaries : Student Nursing fears

I spent my day in silence. It was not even a planned silence. My boys went out of the house and suddenly, I did not turn on the TV or radio. I just enjoyed listening to the clock tick and the fridge making its own continuous noise on the side- the joys of open plan living. I have always hated clocks because of their constant ticking but today it did not seem to matter. I really needed the silence to help me organise myself. It had been a long year for me. I re-started higher education nearly a year ago. I made the decision to retrain as a nurse and it had been so hectic and demanding that I had absolutely no time to think or grieve…. Well, here I was on a day off work simply because my bag had been stolen the day before. It’s unbelievable how traumatising the experience was for me. I spent the day in a secure setting and left my bag on the side in a CCTV secure room. By the time I returned, the bag was not there. The speed with which it was whisked meant that I initially thought that it was a joke. Honestly. However,  a few minutes  into the search, I realised that it was not a joke. The bag was simply…gone! Panic! I had a lot in that baag. My keys… like all my keys. My lucky pen and my late son’s squidgy. I took it from his side when he died and had carried it on my person ever since. Even if I could replace everything I lost with the bag, how on earth will I replicate the sentimental value that toy held to me. He had been inseparable from the little squidgy. It has his squidgy. The one he had actually played with. In my mind, it had remnants and traces of his personality on it. the scrapes, marks and dents on the toy were somehow his stamps on the toy. The hardest part for me after realising that my bag had been stolen was telling everyone. I knew that I was about to open up a minefield of unsolicited opinions. Which I detest by the way…just in case you were wondering. Are you sure you left it there? Duh!?!? I did not lose my mind alongside the bag. I definitely left the bag there. But I kept those thoughts in my mind. After all I needed their help to find the bag. Why did you leave it there? Seriously, if we could all explain the reasons why we did the things we did we would be better people. Who leaves a bag in a place like that? Well me! You would have done the same too. Seriously, asking a question in my absence is just not on! What if I did not walk in on that conversation? Poor me…I felt at the mercy of everyone. I was on the receiving end. Oh and I forgot to mention how many times I had to recount the ordeal. It just felt like yanking off the plaster every time I retold my tale of woes. I could see in their eyes that they were saying I was dumb. Well maybe I was but is that why my bag should be lost….or better still stolen? Thank you for reading. Photo Credit: Pixabay You also like other articles in this series. Please click here

Nursing Diaries: The Stolen Bag

Hello people. I hope you are all well and feeling ok? Today I wanted to just share with you guys something that happened recently. I found a birthday card in my bag. It was not mine but one that I had bought for a friend. At the time I got him the card, I allowed myself spend a bit extra customising and acquiring this card. It was a statement type of card. I really wanted to finally express my sincere appreciation of our friendship. He had on a few occasions, gone out of his way to be there for me. Like he really did not have to do the things he did but he did them anyway. Now why are we talking about this card? Well, it turns out that I found this card unfortunately in my bag 3 months after his birthday! Seriously, I though that I had included it with the gifts as I should have. But it turns out that in all the excitement, I had forgotten to include it. As I was about to take my bag out, I did my usual checks to ensure that I was not going out with any left over junk, unwanted papers and receipts from my previous use. It was then, that I saw the card in the corner of the bag. I did not recognise the envelope initially until I pulled the card out. “I feel blessed to call you my brother, Happy birthday. You are the strongest man I know. This new year of your life, God will show himself and stand with you. I pray all storms will become calm. God will never depart from your side. You will succeed against all odds. I love nd cherish our friendship.” I smiled as I read the message I had included on the first page of the card.  On the next page, I saw the verse that I had included which was inspired by the las minute wine I had included in the basket of gifts. “I am not sure if you still drink. But may the wine, like the blood of christ, signify the outpouring of his love and blessings in your life. May this new year be sweeter than this wine… Amen.” The birthday was 3 months ago now and I contemplated posting the lone card to him anyway. It made me laugh when I read it back because I was definitely not feeling that way about this friend today. He had annoyed me a lot in the last couple of weeks. So I feared that sending the card might be misconstrued as an olive branch. That, I was not interested in. I also felt a bit childish, but I like being childish. It makes me stay true to my inner disinhibited child, not seeking to be politically correct! So If I was happy to hold on to the card, why was I feeling uneasy? What would you do in this situation? Will you give the card to your friend anyway? Will you clarify the reason to stop them feeling you were making peace? Like say “hey, this was your birthday card and I forgot to give you then. Read it, feel god, but please let’s go back to our quarrel?” If you don’t clarify you will be the one who made the first move? Right? Thanks for reading

The Belated Birthday Card

Sorrow… That’s all that engulfs me every time I am lost   Whenever I sit down and feel my emotions, they are as raw as they are real. I bring them to life through the words I weave. With each print, my feelings take shape and form within the pages of white paper.   But then again we all have this creative ability and we express it in different ways. Expressing it allows us to share in our divine connection with God. It allows us to humbly be led from within.   To embrace our creative existence is to embrace God the source of all creativity. The things we craft are not ours but God’s…presented to us through our feelings and emotions but expressed by us through our craft.   Whether we sing, dance, write, paint or act, we are all the same. We are seeking to find ourselves through the works of our hands…to find the hidden tunes in the beat of life.   What we have to give the world will be decided by the being who leads us. When and how we will succeed depends on our destiny. Even though we do not find material benefit from our creativity, the immaterial benefit of having the ability to express it is a gift to be treasured.   My soul is aggrieved because what I have created is now lost. I wrote an epistle and poured myself into its creation. Night and day I was a slave to my ability but the end product justified all my hustle. On the day I sought to present the beauty of my creation, it was lost and never to be found no matter how hard I tried.   What does this mean? Why did God allow me access to the creative vault? Why did he give me the tools I needed to retrieve it and take it away from me again. I made a beautiful thing out of the grief that had me bound. Now that it is lost, I am aggrieved anew.   As I sit contemplating my loss, I am reminded of my humanity, my finiteness and insignificance in the grand scheme of things. I am a slave to my creator. I realise now more than ever why I must not let this setback be a distraction from the ultimate goal of partaking in creation as God intends. Or else I would be as lost as the artefact I seek.   I endure pain in many ways mostly because of the emotions they stir in me. Emotions are powerful and they rule the world. Wars are fought, peace is restored by those empowered to steer the emotions of others. Learning how to steer our emotions towards our intended goals is more of an art than a science.   When I lose what I create, it is so that I can become light enough to immerse myself deep within the fount of my creativity. The lighter I am, the more I can acquire. All loss is gain because in the end all is vanity. I did it before and so I will do it again. I will not fear because I am deeply rooted within the river that never runs dry.   I need to still my soul. Calm my spirit so that I can reach deep within. With God, all things remain within reach only if we believe. All hope is not lost. If it has not happened despite my efforts, that means it is not yet time.   Thank you for reading

Creative loss

Mental health is possessed by every one- Fact! I know it sounds like a ridiculous thing to say but for ages I thought that Mental health was a bad thing. Like being mental as people often say. Interestingly, we all possess physical and mental health. Both have to be fairly stable to enjoy some level of well being, quality of life, health. We will all suffer with some form of issues to our health – physical or mental at some stage in our lives. I personally have coasted along fairly normally (whatever that means). But I was shocked when I recently broke down. We all know my status as a grieving mum but I still carry on. I am one of those who just does not stop. I just keep moving, Like the famous saying that if you are on a bike you have to keep pedalling or risk falling. However, you will agree that at some point everyone needs to take a break. Well, being a nursing student means that time has suddenly become precious. There is always something to do. Placement, university lectures, assignments, portfolios and the list goes on. I was unable to switch off from this reality. For a long time this worked. The distraction kept me from feeling sorry for myself. I was happy. During the summer holidays, I tried to maintain my restless ness. But my holiday was long and so somewhere along the line, rest crept in. It was much needed and I just basked in nothingness. I did not even realise how tired I was until I began to relax. Endless days and nights rolled up in one. I was busy doing nothing or something that wasn’t major. I caught up with my colouring, walking, sewing, clearcut, meditation and so on. I even caught myself wishing the holiday would go on forever. Harsh realities began to kick in at the start of the term. I soon began to feel bamboozled with course work. Unlike year 1, we spent what felt like 5 minutes at university and bang! we were in placement. The stress of it all created room for cracks to gradually emerge within my rock solid defences against my sea of grief. I began to feel absolutely incapable of withstanding even the slightest stress. I began to feel scared and anxious about everything. For example I dropped a dinner plate and began to cry. I was not even crying about the plate but I was feeling sad about not being able to hold the plate. Seriously, who even says that? Well I did. I was doubting myself a lot.  Could I really do this? Could I really carry on with my studies? I contemplated dropping out. I felt so fragile, it was unreal. Then suddenly from nowhere, Karl developed an injury. He was in so much pain. I had to nurse him. We soon began to have one Xray, investigation, scan and all what not. I was getting by. Doing everything for my boys as I normally did. Until… One cool windy morning when I completely broke down! I just began t cry uncontrollably. Somehow, sitting down waiting around for Karl’s scans took me back there again. I sniffed the ward and I found myself back at GOSH again with Otito. Why was I seeing images of Otito in my head. He was smiling at me again in his room in the hospital. I longed for him. I missed him. Then next came the superstitions…. OMG, was Karl going to die? Was that why I was seeing Otito a lot? I began to have vivd dreams about my Otito. I would wake up sweaty. It was not a question of not accepting because I accepted Otito’s death before it even happened. I, like every Christian knew that he was in a better place. Yet all my knowledge could not shield me from the feelings I was experiencing. Karl was sick and so I could not even go to him with my feelings. I began to sleep too much, eat too little and just sit staring. I did not even want to wash myself in the morning or go for a walk as I always did. University? I did not even want to attend anymore. I just longed for the peace and solitude of silence. I was enjoying visions and thought of my son. It was comforting and scaring at the same time. What if it meant something bad was looming again. I count take another blow to my being again. I cried and cried alone for days Then… One day, I just booked an appointment to see my GP. You know there was once a TV advert that said the people could tell their doctor if they were feeling sad. Well, I could not access counselling immediately and I knew I was just so sad and helpless. I had headaches, I only wanted to sleep and do nothing. I said all my mantras and they were not working even though I still hate to admit it. Well, the appointment day came and I saw the GP. This GP listened. I wept uncontrollably. I expressed very deep rooted feelings. Her questions were not intrusive, they were subtle enough to help me navigate my feelings. I told her about my fears, my dreams, my sadness. Guess what she said ” Your feelings are quite normal Lauretta. After all you have been through. I am so sorry Lauretta, losing a child is the worst thing that can possibly happen to a mother. I would be worried if you did not feel sad sometimes. I will start you on some medication. What the treatment would do is to help you cope. It will keep you calm and help you find more happy days and less sad days.  Just expect some days like this when you feel so sad…and that’s normal. You are very brave. Coming to us means that you are brave. You recognise that you are struggling and […]

Nursing Diaries: We all have Mental Health!

I have heard a lot being said about Independent Mental Health Advocates (IMHAs). Advocacy services are free, independent and confidential. Advocacy service is free because the patient does not pay for the service but is entitled to the service. It is independent because the staff are separate from the hospital. They are not part of the hospital staff numbers. They exist to communicate the views and feelings of patients to others. Finally, the service is confidential because it allows the patient to speak freely. They create a safe space where patients can express themselves. The advocates are only permitted to breach confidentiality where there are safeguarding and safety concerns. The patient is made aware of these during the initial introductory meetings. Role To amplify the patient’s opinion. To ensure that the patient understands  their rights including why they are being detained. right to tribunals, right to appeal the section etc. To ensure that the patient’s rights are upheld To create an enabling service that empowers the patient to slowly take responsibility for their advocacy. To provide options to the patient so that patient can make choices. To provide moral support to the patient so that they can feel comfortable within the setting. Being sectioned can be an overwhelming time. New faces, new routines can often make To prepare patient for meetings. For example appointments, CPAs, Manager’s hearing etc. There are two types of advocacy services. The Independent Mental health advocacy (IMHA) and the Normal advocacy service. The addition of the IMHA to the advocacy role was implemented under the Mental Health Act (MHA) amendment in 2007. This made it a statutory requirement for patients detained under sections of the MHA to be entitled to IMHA as an additional safeguarding. The IMHA sees the patient when the patient is admitted. They explain the scope of their involvement to the patient. For example they set boundaries. They do not have access to patient’s notes to help the IMHA remain independent and non judgemental. They make the patient aware that they can disclose information but that the IMHA will break confidentiality for safeguarding reasons, or if they disclose involvement in illegal activities eg drugs, arms etc They do not reflect their views when advocating for patient, The service is all about the patient and free from prejudice. The IMHA does not replace a solicitor. The IMHA shares information with the patient. The IMHA is not bound by duty of care for example, they will still advocate for the patient even though the patient may be making an unwise decision. The IMHA is not a complaints department. However, they can support the patient to make a complaint. The IMHA can carry out an escalation on behalf of the patient where they become aware of ill treatment of the patient or a breach to the patient’s human rights. The IMHA ensures that safeguards are in place to protect the client by keeping vigilant within patient areas. The IMHA attends ward surgeries. There, they ask the patient if they will want to discuss issues further when they are unclear to the patient. NEW IMHA RIGHTS IMHA can now be allowed to interview the patient in a private place. IMHA can also be allowed access to the patient’s notes where risks have been identified. The IMHA does not access capacity. The How will the patient access the IMHA service. Self referral is possible through a free phone service Nurses can refer patients to the service Everyone on the ward that deals with client can refer the patients. The IMHA service is not an emergency service and so they will prioritise clients in the order they will be seen How does the IMHA deal with ethical and moral dilemmas? The IMHA maintains professionalism by remaining independent. They set boundaries with the patient from the inception of the relationship and sets realistic expectations for the patient. The IMHA uses clear communication to avoid ambiguity when relating with patients How does the IMHA uphold the advocacy for children The is achieved by clarifying that the service is for the child and the role of the advocate is to uphold the views and feelings of the child even when they differ from the views of those with parental responsibility. There is also a family advocacy service. This can be handled by a separate advocate where cases conflict of interests arise. Sources Interview with the IMHA within the setting The Maze: A practical guide to the Mental Health Act 1983 (Amended 2007). 3rd Edition. Beckenham: Bethlem Royal hospital pp 133-135 POhWER (2016) Independent Advocacy Service. (Leaflet) POhWER (2016) Secure and Complex Advocacy Services. (Leaflet) Action for Advocacy- The Advocacy Charter

Nursing Diaries: Who are Independent Mental Health Advocates (IMHAs)

It’s two years now… How time flies. I just received a card in the post from Great Ormond street hospital and it was too special to be quiet about. You see, for those in my boat, they know how it feels. Everyone forgets. No that’s harsh. Everyone becomes silent… they don’t talk about him anymore. Well, it’s not surprising since he no longer exists. Well, I felt elated today by the card though. Sadly when I tried to call back to send my heartfelt thanks, there was no specific person to take the compliment. Them: My name is XYZ, you are through to the bereavement service Me: Oh thanks, I just received a card and I want to speak with the person in charge. Them: Erm, erm…. there is no one here in the office, will you leave a message so that I can get someone to call you back Then I went blank. Leave a message? what do I say? Please call me back so that I can say Thank you to you. Them: Hello, are you there? Me: Yes Them: So what is it regarding? She rephrased the question. This one seemed easier me: It is regarding my son Otito…my late son. Them: Oh, do you need support? Oh I never knew that they could give support! Me: No (Now I sounded lame. Why was I calling?) I just want to speak with the person in charge. Them: Ok, so what is it regarding Me: Thank you Them: You are welcome Me: No, it’s regarding Thank you. I want to say thank you. I received a card just now and I thought it was very thoughtful. Since they are not around…. if only I had an email for you guys, I would have sent a letter, it would have been more profound. Them: Oh, it was sent by our office Me: Who sent it Them: We did. I wanted to ask the question: “who is we”, I was still thinking… Them: I am glad you liked it. Is there anything else I can help you with Me: In shock because I was still gathering my thoughts. So I simply said…No Them: Alright then, bye, bye. Me: Bye She hung up…. It was in that moment that it dawned on me that no one sent me the card. It was probably a computer. My hubby was in the room and he asked me : “so what did they say?”. Now I wished I did not tell him I was making the call because I did not want to break his heart. Me: They said they sent it from that office. Hubby: What office Me: The one I just called. I was entering limbo again (I normally enter a certain numbness that leads to me staring when I am troubled. I call this my limbo phase). I was still in shock. When I received that card, It took me to cloud 9. How compassionate, how thoughtful and kind of them. I should not have tried to call to say thank you. After all, did I do that last year? Mba …No! I was not happy that no one seemed to send the card. First she said they were not around, next she said “we” sent the card. But anyway even if “we” sent me a card, it was better than nothing after all all those I knew had forgotten. So cheers to “WE” at Great Ormond Street Hospital, you rock. You guys always loved my boy. I appreciate you all. In future, I would not call to say thank you though. Leave me in the bubble of love, compassion and thoughtfulness that your cards put me in when I receive them. I do not want to be upset. Thank you all for listening to me as always. Photo Credit : Pixabay

Death at my Door (DAMD): 2 years already. When “WE” sent me a message.

I feel the scabs forming daily over my grief. I have started to thaw from where I was frozen with the pain of the loss. I can safely say that I now feel the fresh breeze of life on my skin. Well… I still yearn for memories long gone as any griever knows. But…. I smile because I was privileged to make them with “he is was mine but now flies high in the sky!” I can flex my emotional muscles more. I don’t fight the tears when they pour I know that experiencing them strengthens me and helps reduce the pain.   Now I see the scar forming beneath the scabs that have formed where my heart took the hit at his demise. It still hurts to behold the scar but… The oil of love that surrounds me will melt the scar until it hurts less to look at it. Like every warrior, the scars we bear of the life we live show how far we have come. What is most powerful about the scar is that it reassures us about we are capable of overcoming. If you did it before…you can do it again and you will! No matter your struggle or pain. Keep believing that you’ve have got this! Thank you for reading

Death at my door (DAMD) The Scars

Still on the Faux locks The dread worms had lasted 5 weeks but now they looked like hell. Normally, my hair frizzed for Lagos (That’s when I lived there). Since I moved continents from the tropics to this temperate region, it frizzed for Europe. When the nice lady made my dread worms she said to wait 6 weeks before the next appointment.   Luckily, I discovered the faux locks a few days ago. Why wait any longer? I thought. I secretly sent her a message to secure an appointment. Easy peezy right? Well, not with this woman. She asked me to send her pictures of the hair. I began looking for the brightest part of my living room to capture the hair. I needed her to see the frizz in the hair. Knowing her, she would not book the appointment if it was not ready to be re twisted. She was such a dread lock guru and from all my previous discussions and consultations with her, she was all about naturally nurturing the hair to reach it’s full potential. Yeah man!   Luckily, I was able to capture all the ugliness I needed to secure an appointment. It was to be 2 days later and I was so happy. I spent most of the evening contemplating on wether to ask her about the faux locks by text or in person. The thought that I could actually install the locks in 2 days was so exciting. Why wait? Was it not my money? My hair?   We were sitting in the living room watching a movie when I decided to send her a message We were sitting in the living room watching a movie when I decided to send her a message. You know how messages help cut out all the small talk? That’s exactly why I sent it instead of calling.   ME: “I have a question Susan, sorry to bother you. I want to ask about permanent faux locks ( at this point I was thinking that there must have been temporary faux locks and I did not want any misunderstanding. Meanwhile, the excitement was building up. I was sure she knew how to make them. She knew all things locks!) Do you know how to install them? How much do they cost?   I clicked send!   Phew, there was no going back now. The message was gone now. Although with this new improved what’s app, I could delete it. I didn’t. Instead I waited for her reply. I went to prepare dinner. As I did, I kept looking at my phone screen for updates.   No reply   I watched another movie   No reply.   I was feeling desperate for an answer but I did not want to send a reminder. You know that thing where you want a message to sound casual and not do or die? That was me.   Still no reply.   Maybe she was not home? Or perhaps she had left her phone at home and gone out without it. Or maybe she was attending to a client. She was a busy woman after all. I decided to stop checking and just carry on. If it was going to be, it would be.   Then BUZZZ!!!!   A message and it was from Susan.   My heart was pounding as I typed in my password to unlock my phone and hit the What’s app icon. Yay, It was going to be real? I hope it would not cost a fortune. Whichecver way, I would pay anything to cut out the faffle of waiting around for my dreadworms to grow, bulk up, and all the hoohaa.   SUSAN: “Yes, expensive plus the hair and I need a day. Approximately 165 depending on the length”.   So much for waiting for a reply. I did not get much from it. Although on a positive note, she was engaging with the idea and not attacking it. She needed a day and my appointment with her was in less that 12 hours. I did not mind waiting an extra day to get what I wanted really. 165? Was that the price or the number of strands she had to make? If it was the price for it then that was fine too. As long as I had it done in the end. I was glad that Susan was not giving me a sermon. At least in the end it would benefit her and she would make more money from it. But I needed more answers   ME: “I understand. Is it super duper expensive? Please tell me the length ranges and prices”.   SUSAN: Is this for you? Oh dear, my message sounded general. Of course it was for me.   ME: Yes, or is it too late? Now that I had done the dread worms? (Oh, I had not considered that. Anyway, she did say she could comb out my locks at the 4 week stage.)   SUSAN: Why do you want to rush the growth? Really, rushing the growth? I still wonder why people like to give unsolicited opinions. Why could I not just make my hair in the way I chose without being given advice. Who said I wanted to rush the growth? I understood that the hair needed time to grow but I did not want to wait with it. I could disguise it while I did. I did nor even have to explain myself to anyone. I am a grown woman. I could feel my temperature rising. I started taking deep breaths to calm down because I did not want my disgust to seep through my fingers into my next reply to her.   Breathe in, Breathe out, In….out……in…..out…. “Hey babe, you ok? You seem to be breathing very deeply”, John asked. Oh dear, I did not hear him walk in. Another adviser. The world seemed to be full of them. He leant towards me on the couch wearing his […]

Dreadlocs or Not? : Still on the faux Locs (7)

The placement Visit The placement visit is essential because it provides the student with the opportunity to initially interact with the placement area on an informal basis. It is like a test-run of the real experience and can help the student prepare adequately for the placement. Sometimes, placement areas may be located within an area that is unfamiliar to the student. The visit allows the student make the necessary logistical considerations. For example gauging the distance and time of travel needed to maintain punctuality. A guided tour. During the visit, the student may be given a guided tour of the facility. This can help set expectations about the client group, size and scope of the placement area. Initial conversations during visits may involve disclosure regarding the learning opportunities being provided by the placement area and the expectations from the student may also be disclosed. Research the placement area by visiting their website. This can help the student get an idea about the specific services offered by the placement area. Are they a specialist service? Is there a specific client group For example children, adolescents, adults or elderly? Do they cater for a specific sex for example male or female? In order to get the best from the placement, it is usually useful to read about these services. Ask about the legal frameworks that are regularly linked to the service. For example the Mental Health act, Equality act, Child act, Safeguarding and so on. The placement opportunity may provide the opportunity to see how these laws are applied to practice. Ask questions about the placement. It is useful to have questions written down to create a sense of organization. Finding out as much as possible about the placement during the visit can help set the student’s expectations. Hearing firsthand information from the staff can reduce anxiety. It also helps create the impression that the student is eager to learn. Find out about possible multidisciplinary input. The placement settings give students opportunity to interact with other multidisciplinary teams. It can be worth finding out what other fields of nursing and/ or healthcare are interlinked with the service. This information can create an interesting focus for action plans. During the placement visit, students can ask if there are opportunities to observe these various teams during their interactions with clients to expand the scope of learning. Arrangements may be need to be made in advance to facilitate these opportunities. It is worth noting that client consent needs to be taken into account. Negotiate with Mentors. Students are always advised to do the shifts that are offered by the placement areas. However, many placement areas may be able to accommodate individual requests for varied shift patterns. This depends a lot on the type of service, hours of work and severity of the student’s circumstance. During the visit, students may perceive this flexibility and make such requests. However, this should be done cautiously. Thank you for reading. Written by Lauretta Ofulue. Photo credit: Pixabay

Nursing Diaries: The Placement Visit

Faux Locks I had never heard of the term before. Of course Faux was not a new term to me. After all, I had faux fur tops and bedding, faux leather bags and throws. But that was all there was to the faux business in my life.   I lie though, Come to think of it. Faux means fake, pretend, unreal. So synthetic hair was faux, synthetic wigs were faux as well. But I cross my heart, that is the extent I can stretch my faux knowledge to.   It was one jobless evening when I was engaging in one of my harmless and favourite pass times (internet strolling) that I stumbled into the concept of faux locks. Not the wig locks but actual dread locks but the faux version!!!   Faux Locks? Come on girls? Could locks be fake as well? What happened to the journey with the hair? Self discovery? Learning to be patient and all that? Well faux locks would be rubbish and easily spotted. Surely their fauxness should make them less popular. Nothing like the real deal!   Well, my curiousity had been aroused. I needed to see these locks for myself. One app later, I was on youtube. Search bar, faux locks and Voila! There the locks were in all their glory. They were painstakingly installed and the process had been filmed in the usual youtube way. In less than a day, the ladies created these faux locks that blended in with the actual hair. It was amazing.   Then I remembered that every time I grew my hair previously I always used hair extensions. That way, I skipped the rigourous part that involved all this penance and patience and longsuffering self discovery. I just hid my short hair in the hair extensions which by the way was beautiful while it grew. The thought that it was also possible with faux locks was ecstatic.   I did not tell John about my discovery. No way! I did not want a Gemini cricket that would talk me out of my new found liberation from my dread worms. From what I was seeing on the internet, the faux locks cost a lot of money. I even looked on ebay and 5 strands cost about £10. That was excluding the cost of installation. Surely, my locktician could install those for me easily. Afterall, she would make more money from doing them. I thought that the part involving her would be fairly straightforward.   So this week, my mind was made up. Faux locks it was. Goodbye to talking to myself 100 times a day to boost my confidence. Who said starter locks were beautiful? Well maybe those who had the support of make up. Interestingly, people had been stopping me on the street to ask about where I made my hair. I had given my locktician’s phone number to them. John reassured me as usual that being asked for referrals should encourage me on my journey. It did if I am honest. It absolutely did   ….until I discovered the redeeming faux locks. I now feel liberated. I do not have to wait for the hair or “learn” to love it as it is. I can make it look exactly how I want it to look in a years time…right now! Who said we cannot cheat nature? Eh? Thank you for reading. Photo credit Pixabay If you missed out on other parts of the popular “Dreadlocs or Not” series, you can catch up here.    

Dread locs or Not? Faux Locs (6)

Initiating the placement visit The Nursing and Midwifery council regulates the practice of all nurses and midwives registered within the UK (NMC, 2015). As a result, they determine the structure of the nurse-training course in order to ensure that all students are ready to enter the register at the end of the programme. The structure of the course unlike many others is half theory and half practice. What this means is that students spend 50% of the course in the university exploring the theoretical aspects of nursing. While, other 50% of the time is spent within placement where the theory that is learnt is put into practice (NMC, 2010). In reality, the prospect of attending placements can be both an exciting and daunting prospect for most students at university especially for those in the first year. This article is aimed at students from all disciplines of nursing. When students receive placement information, the university expects them to undertake an initial placement visit. This visit is normally initiated by a phone call to the placement area by the student. Making phone calls have become very mundane tasks. However, when it comes to making the phone call to book placement visits, the author has observed that students can find the simple task very daunting. The article will consider some steps to take before and during the call to help simplify this task and to keep it as simple as it is intended to be. Before making the phone call Calm down and stay composed. At the end of the day, it is just a phone call. The people in the placement area will probably be used to having students. That means it is very likely that they are willing to help. Be organized. Look at your diary. Make sure you know the days you are expected to be at university. Take note of free days and be flexible about the time you will be available. It may be worth having your diary nearby. There is nothing more annoying than selecting a date and finding out later that you have lectures on that day. Get the phone number. Check the email for this. If it has been omitted, don’t panic. You can call the placement office. Sometimes, the phone numbers on the placement directory may be outdated. Imagine how many student placement areas organized by the placement office. You can search for the website of the placement area online. Call the switchboard and ask to be transferred to the ward or area you require. If you do not know the contact person, just ask to be linked with a mentor or staff member who manages the students. That person will most likely have specific details. Talk to other students. Find out what others are doing. Don’t isolate yourself. It is always nice to interact and get support from others within your cohort. Sometimes there may be others in your class who are posted to the same place as you. You can arrange a group visit to reduce anxiety. They may also have more up to date information about the area if they have already called or visited. During the phone call Relax and stay calm. Remember, it is just a phone call. Placement areas are filled with helpful staff who are aware of your potential anxiety. Don’t panic, if the person sounds a bit distracted. It may be a busy day within the placement area. Staff aim to be professional but being human makes them prone to error. Make your first impression count. First impressions can be daunting when you are on the phone. So use your tone of voice, pitch and calmness to help you maintain your composure. This will help you come across as confident. Write down your questions. This will save you from forgetting any information you want to know about. It may also reduce anxiety by making you more attentive and present during the conversation. Sometimes worrying about forgetting important niggling questions can be stressful. Listen. Try to listen during the conversation with the mentor or staff. Resist the temptation of talking over the person. Let them finish their sentences before you start speaking. It shows respect for the other party. Have a paper and pen to hand. This will help you write down important information during the conversation. For example details like time to attend the visit, who to ask for and so on. Ask if you need to bring in documents. Some placement areas require you to come in with your DBS clearance documents. Others may want you to bring some official identification especially if you are going into a secure service area. Take some time. Take time to recap all the information you have received during the call. This reduces the risk of omitting important information like where to go, what time to arrive, whom to see, etc. it also makes the other party know that you were listening.   In conclusion, after you have scheduled the visit, you may begin to feel less anxious because you have taken control of the situation (NHS Choices). These steps discussed above can be taken before and during the call to the placement area to prepare students for the placement learning opportunity.   References Nursing and Midwifery Council (2015) The Code. Standards of conduct, performance and ethics for nurses and midwives. London: NMC. Nursing and Midwifery council (2010) Standards for pre-registration nursing education. London: NMC NHS Choices Thanks for reading Written by Lauretta Ofulue Photo credit: Pixabay        

Nursing Diaries: Initiating the placement visit

I heard something interesting in the news today. China has banned Christmas Is that even possible? Banning Christmas? Well, this country has certainly defied the norm and banned Christmas. As a Christian, I should shout but in reality, I am not sure that I disagree.   Ever since I arrived the shores of obodo oyibo, Christmas has appeared to have more to do with Santa than Jesus. I have listened and watched the media gear up for Christmas from as early as October. Children are encouraged to be at their best behaviour so that come December the 25th, Santa Claus would visit the bottom of their Christmas trees where he would deposit presents to reward their behaviour.   In fact there is even a big hullabaloo about sighting this Santa Claus fellow on the Christmas eve in the sky. That is made possible by a pre-arranged gimmick by the National space agency (NASA) to convince children about the reality of a man that only exists in our imagination.   In my eyes all I can see and hear beneath all these is not evil but capitalism. Driving sales and profits being the main rationale for the season. You can see how much easier it is for these clever people to achieve their numbers just by focusing all their campaigns on something as popular as Christmas. Therefore, the big companies cash in on the idea. They offer sales, low prices, stock clear-outs and you name it just to make their balance sheets look sparkly for the end of what happens to be most of their financial years’.   It is not actually a bad thing per se. We do live in a society that needs to be viable. Low sales, low profits means that businesses slowly die off. That leads to a chain reaction of events including unemployment, poverty, hunger and homelessness. Next comes crime and problems because people have to survive somehow. The social system of benefits may pick up some of the tabs but with no income coming in, it too will crash. So yes, sales are very good and a positive step towards economic sustainability.   However what we need as Christians is to redirect the focus of Christmas. The motive behind an action determines how we judge it. So basically, we can both be doing the same thing but if we have two different reasons for doing it, we will judge the outcomes differently.  Rather than drive Christmas towards Mr Clause and focus it on capitalism and materialism, we can redirect the focus to be on Christian values that are focused around Jesus Christ. Love, giving, kindness, compassion and so on can be the renewed purpose for patronising these merchants.   As Christian parents we must strive to pull our children towards the true Christmas spirit.   Or else, what will we be teaching our children?   That Christmas is a time of receiving, writing lists, making demands and making endless demands on our overstretched resources. We will be teaching them about filling the Christmas trees with things that we do not really need while we miss the opportunity to teach them to be prudent and kind.   If we can emphasise the truth about Christmas instead of just the capitalist idea of sales, then maybe Christmas would still be about buying things to give in love to those around us instead of only expecting to get from everyone. Christmas should be a super duper love feast because Jesus himself was born on that day for the sole purpose of sharing himself with us entirely and eternally.   We will be more able to then value all that people around us give us not just the material presents that they buy. There are some among us who give up their time to be with us, their attention to help guide us, their love to support us. Do we teach our children to recognise the gifts they bring to enrich our lives with? Do we let the capitalists spend all their time and resources selling the Santa Clause idea to us rather than we as Christians taking the lead on selling the free gift of Jesus at Christmas with the world? Let us think again about what we teach the next generation. Although China may have banned Christmas, let us revive the spirit of Christmas in our hearts and lives. Let us place an embargo on the capitalist, wasteful, self-indulgent idea of Christmas. Let us embrace the Christmas that reminds us to love, to give and to share.  After all as they say, It is more blessed to give than to receive. Thank you for reading. Photo Credit: Pixabay

The Santa Clause

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Childhood memories…. Of us all sitting in the sunshine Playing in the sand and rolling in the mud with reckless abandon. We had way more fun than the children we nuture would ever dream of.   I remember the tales by moonlight we heard or were told On dark hot nights while we waited for NEPA to bring us some light. The National Electric Power Authority that we saw as Never Expect Power Always…NEPA indeed! Something that should have been the people’s right was given as a privilege to us Even though our parents payed huge bills for electric we never used.   I remember the days when children’s programmes only lasted from 4-6pm When we made our games as we went along without asking for too much When it was enough to eat rice on Christmas Day not write long endless lists like tax collectors     I digress though….as usual   Day in day out we had each other for company… We had our fill and never imagined a day would come when we will live apart. But such is life. It happens and we sail away on our dreamboats in pursuit of our inner desires. Sometimes I wonder if it has all been worth it? The longing for old times keeps me up at night .   Life happened and took us on our separate ways. To pastures new we sojourned in search of bread and butter. To the tunes we once listened to I indulge myself until I sail back in time. I hear all the laughter ring in the silence of my heart. It deafens my ears and kindles my constant longing for the good old days.   I realise now that what I long for resides in the good old days. I long for you, my brother, my sister, my parent, my friend I long for the joy you brought into my life. Although I have all, I am impoverished by the constance of your absence   Although you are far from me I still feel your love It warms my heart like a blanket wrapped around my shivering body on a cold winter morning. I refuse to set these sweet memories aside for now I just want to bask in the warmth of that reassuring love.   I now live far away from all the noise and joy of true family and friendship I admit the hurt it causes my heart. Like a spear it cuts through deep To the extent that I cease to make my heart available to form new ties My heart is frozen over with my longing for you.   We are all grown men and women But in my heart we are still the children we once were. I want to roam the streets in reckless abandon in search of everyone But I know you are safe where you reside, far across the world.   Thanks for reading Photo credit Pixabay

Longing for the good old days

I have been thinking a lot about how more challenging it is to raise a Christian child in this day and age. It feels like it was a lot easier for our parents to achieve this in their era. Those of us born in the 70s and 80s, know for a fact that the benchmark for moral standards has shifted adversely. This is now an age where things like nakedness, exposure, foul language and even strong vices are seen as badges. If you think this is a lie, watch the television. No longer do those images and ideologies sting our senses or cause us to squirm.   I agree that technology and so called enlightenment have been the making of the modern world. However the trade off has been the shift in what we all consider good and bad. For example I remember getting told off at work place because I included “In God I trust” in my email signature. I get the evils when I add “By God’s grace within a statement by people who constantly fill the air waves with swearing, F’s and Puffs and all what not! Rather than shrink away, I managed to tell them that I would only stop talking about God if they also stopped swearing! ” Stop swearing please”,  I said But they laughed at me and said I was just being holy holy. How on earth can saying by God’s grace be a crime while saying fucking, bullshit and bloody hell are applauded!   Yeah, that’s the world we live in today. Sadly, it is the one we have to raise our children in. I dare say that some sermons appear over tailored for political correctness. Many preachers no longer want to be astute with their approach to the truth. Instead, they appear to pet the issue and be at the mercy of these ideologies. The good news is that, we can make a difference. We can help our children. Prayer as always is the key. The key to establishing a solid relationship with God lies in the strength of one’s prayer life. Prayers need not be long enough to distract from the purpose of building and establishing this ecclesiastical rapport. Prayer needs to be just enough to to connect with God and stay connected.   So what length of prayer is acceptable? Any! Yes …. So long prayers, short prayers, singing, quiet prayers and not so loud ones will do. The bible reassures us that God hears our thoughts (Psalm 139:23), Hannah’s prayer was silent in her heart and God heard her (1 Samuel 1:10,13),   Prayer does not need to be lengthy. Remember Jesus’ admonition for us to pray with few words and not ramble on (Matthew 6:7). We should also pray without ceasing. Meaning that we should cultivate a habit of prayer so that we are constantly in union with God in our hearts at all times.   Let’s say you an I understand all these concepts, how do we teach this to our little children. Children who would much rather play games, fiddle about with gadgets and have what appear to be the shortest attention spans since the inception of time. They are having more fun than all the children born in all the past eras joined together! It is certainly a huge challenge for the modern parent. My advice would be Keep prayers short. So that they will be interested in praying with you next time. There was nothing more annoying than my mum’s long, slow prayers when I was young. I heard myself say “Our father who at in heaven….. and mean it but by the time we were on the fourth psalm, all I wanted to do was sleep. Make prayers enjoyable. You can ask your child to add their own words. Praise every effort they make. Tell them you like how they pray. You like the way they sound. This will encourage them to pray and build their confidence Pray with your child. This gives you the opportunity to model prayer to your child. Choose simple words and avoid repetition Encourage your child to pray before most activities. Short ejaculatory prayers are effective for teaching children to invite God into every activity. For example, on your way out you can say “may God bless our journey and bring us home safely in Jesus name”. or “Bless my food O Lord God” before meals. Short simple prayers help children learn to include prayers into their daily activities. Be consistent. In consistency lies the power. Consistency helps create the pathway for children to follow. Even though the child seems uninterested, just carry on praying regularly. Thanks for reading Photo credit Pixabay

Raising the Christian child- Long prayers

Some Positives   Did I just admit to myself that there have been some positives? Well, I guess it’s only fair to say so. Considering that I have   spent the past few days moaning about my hair.     Hmmmm…. Photo Credit: Pixabay. If you missed out on other parts of the popular “Dreadlocs or Not” series, you can catch up here.     Everyone has been so supportive. I have moaned about these dreadworms to anyone who has cared to listen. But I keep getting the same answer…. be patient. Let the locks do their thing they say. Everyone’s locks are different.   Even my dad, the King of impatience had something to say about my dreadworms   “Stop comparing yours with mine or others”   I get all that. I do not actually want another person’s dreads. Or am I?   Well I think not…but maybe a little.     Anyway, I am just fussing about how mine will turn out based on the info before me. I don’t want skinny locks but my sections are small. I don’t like the partitions but John says when the locks spring out it won’t matter cos I can style them anyhow I want. So yes, one good thing to come out from my locks has been a lot of love from everyone. I see them all trying to support me. They have helped me reach deep within myself into my shallow bowl of patience. I will say that their kind words have given me strength and reassurance. I feel that in their own way, they have given me more psychological strength and helped me unconsciously add to my bowl of patience. With each passing day despite my frustrations, I feel my bowl of patience grow deeper and stronger.       Another positive has been that since I had my dreadworms installed, I have not had to physically worry about making my hair. I have been more able to get on with life. My work has not suffered and I have been able to spend more time with my family. I have also saved a lot of money as a result.   What I did not bargain for was all the psychological noise that I have been experiencing. I look different, weird. I think that I have to get used to this new look first. When people look at me I keep feeling self conscious. But I don’t think that is to do with the stares. It’s to do with me. Every comment, sigh or glance just reinforces my inner insecurity. To successfully build my inner strength, I have to accept my new look first. I recognise that I will need time to adjust and so I have made plans to help me. I only open up my hair when I feel comfortable. I don’t rely on any validation from anyone.   That’s why I feel that these dreadworms are leading me towards a positive journey of self discovery.       My dreadworms have also made me crawl out of my shell. I have spoken more freely about my feelings than ever before. I feel more resilient because I have let myself use my ever-present support structures to build this resilience. Talking about my silliest feelings with my family and friends has also given them the chance to love me, to be kind to me and to support me. It’s very difficult when you tend to be the one who supports everyone. It has felt quite safe to be vulnerable around them for once!     So this week, my aim will be to focus on positives, love myself more, love my hair more, pray more and accept my dreadworms. I need to rest well, eat well, drink and sleep well. Basically, I have to create a good biological environment for my locks to thrive and do their thing as everyone keeps saying.     I counted John’s dreads and he has 83 locks. He counted mine back and I have 143 locks. I will no longer focus on the fact that 143 means the locks are way too small. But on the fact that it means that I will have very many locks to play with. They will be impressive. I have always had thick hair. I trust it to bulk up when it is ready.   My hair is like a baby. It’s just in its infancy. I can’t expect it to run right now, it has to sit, crawl, stand, wobble, walk, wobble again before it can run!     So lesson 1 on this journey, is Patience. The key to patience is a healthy distraction and that is what I will fill myself up with!   So catchya… as I head off to work!   To be continued   Thank you for reading. Photo credit Pixabay If you missed out on other parts of the popular “Dreadlocs or Not” series, you can catch up here.

Dreadlocs or Not? Some Positives (5)

Every mature student who considers restarting their studies at university knows that it can be a nerve wracking prospect. Gone are the days when we used to submit applications on paper. Technology has replaced the need for long queues and endless procedures. When I decided to train as a nurse, I was not exempted from this confusion.  By the time I made up my mind, it was late in the year. This meant that I had to use the university clearing process. I was interviewed by the university’s clearing department about my experience of the process. It was very straight forward and not as scary as I had made it up to be in my head. I hope you enjoy reading the article. Cheers guys!   Which secondary school did you attend? I attended a secondary school in Nigeria about 20 years ago now. It had been a long time since I had undertaken any health-related subjects like biology. This created a lot of anxiety for me when I decided to change my career and undertake the nurse training program at Northampton University. What course are you studying? Learning disability nursing Why did you choose the course? I decided to undertake the learning disability nursing course following the loss of my son several months earlier. He was born with a life threatening condition known as Propionic-acidaemia. In a nutshell it compromised his body’s ability to bring down his proteins leading to a build-up of toxins in his blood known as ammonia. In the end he developed severe learning disabilities and autism in addition to a host of other complications. My life revolved around his care. I managed his nutrition and medication, maintained stock control for his, equipment, supplies, feeds and drugs. Following his demise, I realised that I had unintentionally acquired lots of skills. Although they were no longer required they were still potentially relevant to others. I found myself supporting other parents like me who had children with learning disabilities. I knew that I could carry on making a difference in their lives. I could not ignore the huge gap that losing my son had created in my life. At a point I became very apprehensive because I had skills that were on the verge of being lost following his death. I had painstakingly acquired them through my journey with my son and becoming deskilled felt like losing the last link to him. Prior to birthing my son and being thrust into the world of caring, I had trained as an economist at university. With several years of experience within the financial services sector, leading and managing teams under my belt, I decided to return to work. No sooner had I returned than I discovered that I had assumed the shape of the proverbial square peg within the round hole that was my old career. I just could not fit in anymore. My life experiences have made me a different person. I wanted more. With the weight of grief and the zeal to help parents combined, I envisioned a new dream. I had lots of lived experience but lacked the professional skills to underpin my practice. As much as I wanted to help I did not want to endanger both people with learning disabilities and their families. This led me to embark on the pursuit of a new career specifically in learning disability nursing. Why did you choose clearing? By the time I decided to join the course, it is a bit late in the year. I did not know if I would meet the University criteria for nursing. However I had my First degree in Economics, my GCSEs and a few certifications. I rang the University and told them about my circumstance. The person I spoke to was very empathetic and helpful. In the end, I took their advice to apply directly through the clearing route on UCAS. What was it like? The clearing process was very straightforward. I admit there were many pages to fill out but nothing unusual for an application. I filled out the forms online and uploaded all the relevant documents. After a few weeks I was contacted and invited for an interview before which I got offered a place on the course. What is the course like? I course is absolutely amazing. The Learning disability nursing cohort is a small group. This creates a personalised experience for me as a student during lectures. Most of the lecturers know us and this helps us build a rapport that makes the course more interesting. What you enjoyed the most? I have enjoyed the ease of forming relationships. It’s really easy to get along with other students in the different branches of nursing. The lectures are delivered through interactive seminars. Our lecturers encourage student input during sessions through discussions. I have also enjoyed using the resources made available to us by the University. I have gained lots of confidence by accessing the different types of support available within the University for Example the Learning development team, Personal academic tutor, Student support and much more. What would you say to someone who might not get the A-level grades they’d hoped for, but still want to go to uni? I will say don’t give up until you ring the university. It’s worth discussing the different options with the admissions team. In my personal experience I found them to be very approachable and easy to talk to. Although the process of filling out forms might feel a bit daunting, the fact that help is just a phone call away makes a big difference.   Here’s the article on the university website. It’s an abridged version. If you know the press like I do, they only use the best bits out of a long interview. Please click on the link to see it yourself. Thanks for reading. Written by Lauretta Ofulue Photo credit; Pixabay

Nursing Diaries: How did the university admission process go?

I have just opened my eyes and its 4:20 am! Well, this has not happened by accident. It’s because I wanted to watch the boxing match everyone has been talking about for days. The hype for this match has been epic!. The WBC heavy weight title fight between Tyson Fury (TF) and Deontay Wilder (DW). For starters, when I watched the last pre-match interview, TF looked really different and in a good way. Trim, fit and awesome. But so did DW too. Trust boxers… each man had been telling us how good he was and how he would wipe the floor with the other. I really wanted to see it unfold firsthand. So I am very excited but rather than break the silence, I would put my thoughts down on paper. Let’s see if you enjoy the match as I am doing right now. Ring Entrance TF makes his entrance first. As I said earlier, he looks trimmer and sharper. He has also chopped off his signature beard. Errrmmm…. I am not too sure making too many changes is such a good idea. I am a gypsy at heart myself but we’ll see. Oh! something else has changed from the last two times I watched TF. The “return of the Mac music is not on cue”.  I am a bit worried now at this point. I just feel like he has jinxed the fight but we’ll see. DW. I was surprised that he was booed at he made his entrance. He is at home for Christ’s sake. We shall see what that is all about soon. Anyway, he enters the ring wearing a cloak with feathers all around the neck, a crown and half of a face mask. If his intention was to be a lion, he certainly missed the designing memo because he looks more like a vulture. He is not making any big body moves. He looks pretty calm considering all his pre match comments. Perhaps he is in the famous Zone that we hear athletes enter during competitions. But there is a thin line between entering the zone of athletics and entering the zone of fear. Hear ! Hear! Rounds 1-3 The first 3 rounds have been for TF so far in my opinion. Wilder has been unable to land any massive punches at this point. I hear DW will normally knock people out within the first 4 rounds. I just feel that if TF can  hold him off until the end of round 4 he will stand a chance… Round 4 DW seems to be coming out a bit more. More of those his famous right hooks beginning to show. But his reach is shorter than TF’s. DW has been very unable so far. He walked in looking like he was in the zone. But with each punch he is unable to land, I wonder if that was fear I saw in his eyes at the start. TF has been so confident, doing his foot walks, throwing punches and really moving around. DW just appears to be chasing him around most times. Round 5 This is our chance. Go TF! Sorry, did I just give away my bias? Come on, to be fair I am British so it’s not surprising. Compadre and all. First few seconds in and  I have seen a few combos from TF. Fatigue appears to be setting in now to on both sides. TF has not been very active in this round. His punches appear to have decelerated. Fewer punches, less movement. He is not as sharp as he was in the first few rounds. To be fair even though I hate to admit it, DW looks stronger in this round. Round 6 OMG I can’t believe the match is still on… I think DW has a plan and TF needs to be aware. TF has won the previous 5 rounds in my books. A flash card on the screen appears to have given round 2 to DW. Seriously, are these referees watching the same fight?  If he wins a few more, then DW will need a knock out to win.  DW is trying to reach but can’t seem to get to the gypsy king. I imagine that an unsuccessful punch would be more exhausting than land an actual punch. TF just locked in a few punch combos and DW had to use some high blocks to save himself. DW just finally landed a successful punch. He probably plans to knock out TF but that may not be a good idea for him because the gypsy king means business. Round 7 Wow. Round 7????? Here we are in round 7, I certainly did not see this coming. I really need a wee but I can’t bear to miss a moment! DW is not even able to land punches TF is controlling the fight. He looks confident and still active. Infact he looks stronger than he did in round 4. Nice right hand by TF now. Wow some nice combos too by DW and TF looked like he was in trouble as a result. In fact he had to lock DW to save himself. These punch combos seem to have boosted DW’s confidence. Psychologically that seems to have brought them back on equal grounds.  We can’t rule out DW. This was such an interesting round that it seemed shorter. Round 8 They have to dig deep now. It’s been a settled round so far. TF physically towers high above DW so much. It’s unbelievable that their height difference is 2″. TF’s confidence, foot walk and body language are all goading  DW. Some nice jab combo from TF at the moment and so far, he seems to be clinching this. TF is a total tease. The round ended with DW landing some nice jabs and TF’s body language appearing to suggest indifference. Round 9 This fight is turning out to be value for money for all TF’s fans. A swelling is quite visible now under DW’s right eye. It’s amazing how confident TF still looks. […]

Wilder vs Fury: WBC Boxing Championship Fight

No way!   I feel absolutely disillusioned with my hair   This was meant to be a good idea. I lock my hair and live happily ever after. But that’s just not the case   Ok for starters, the lady locked my hair in sections that are not box like. The sections look like hand fans at the back and rectangles in front. I cannot understand why the sections in front differ from the ones at the back.   I hate that they are uneven. That’s the whole reason why I did not make the hair myself !   I kept telling her that the locks were small. She insisted that they will expand as the hair began to form the locks.   Then finally…   After drying the hair, she began snipping off the ends of my hair with a pair of scissors.   No warning…no notice…..   Just snip snip snippety snip!   What she did not realise was that with each snip, she tore at my heart.   I was in so much shock that I could not even react.  She did not even offer me an explanation about why she had chosen to cut my hair. Instead she said she could have cut it shorter but would leave the length as it was…   Seriously?   This woman had assumed power over me. She was controlling how long or short my hair would be. Opon reflection now, I realise that she may not have meant it that way but it did not stop me feeling that way. If she had communicated with me beforehand, I am sure I would not have felt so helpless. She probably thought she was helping… exercising her expertise over me. She was probably doing right by my hair but the fact that her decisions about my hair were hers and not arrived at in partnership with me heightened my anxiety. I felt like I was losing control over something as important to me as my hair.   It was my own hair….It sat on my head and would determine my appearance. I do not customarily add any make up on my face to enhance my appearance.   Can you imagine why my hair was so important to me? Reducing the length of it was an absolute no-no. The dry wintery weather had reduced my hair length already so I definitely did not want to add any deliberate snips to the length… at least not without any warning.   Any error with my hair meant that I risked looking absolutely stupid!   She did not even appear to listen to anything I was saying and it was really sad.   So here I am this morning, grieving my hair, horrible sections and petrified by the fact that the locks will be potentially thin dread worms.   Now that’s sad.  It just makes me feel so unlucky. Why do I always have to pass through emotional troughs just to gain new experiences?   That’s why I like to stick with things I know. Things with preset and certain pathways and outcomes are my forte. My anxiety is now heightened because I have absolutely no idea how this would go.   So this past week, I have spent more time in bed.   I keep staring at the mirror and fiddling with the hair.   Stupid sections.   Stupidly skinny dreadworms.    I just wished that I could actually remain in bed till the hair grew long or bulked up. This dreadlock business was turning out to be a very bad move. I could find absolutely no happiness. My self esteem and morale had nose dived.  I had the hair tied in a scarf to work. I could not even bear to let anyone else see the hair in case they reinforced my fears.   “Hey the hair is so beautiful”, said John, my ray of sunshine   “Well I don’t like it”, I said trying to stop us from having yet another session about my hair.   “What’s up with the dread worms today? He asked.   “The sections are horrible, they are skinny, she cut my hair…..   “I don’t know why you are saying all this”, he said cutting me   short.   “The hair is fine just leave it alone!” he snapped and I fell silent and withdrew back into my thoughts.   That’s it! I can’t even have a moan. I just feel stuck with this hair.   Why can’t I just remove it?   Well that will be £55 gone for starters. But worse than that, my hair has been cut short. I am not sure at this point which would depress me more. Unravelling the dreadworms and beholding my new short hair or persevering with these stupid locks. I would also feel like a failure if I gave up on the hair after only a week. I needed to see this through at least till the 6-week mark that the stylist set me. Who knows, I might feel differently by then.even though I seriously doubt it.   As for the world, they have no clue how I feel inside. There is nothing worse than someone I am paying my hard earned money to making my hair in the way they think is best not in the way I want. It just makes me feel bullied. Then, when I try to say how I feel, people around me make me feel like a complaint minister.   So what do I do? Just suck it up. But do I really have to?   “Babe, come on let me take you out”, John said cutting through my thoughts like a knife.   “Stop thinking about this hair. I am so sorry if I sounded harsh but this hair really suits you. I wish you could see what I see”, he said.   With that I smiled at least week one was over.   To be continued.   Photo Credit Pixabay Thank you for reading. If you missed out on other parts of the popular “Dreadlocs or Not” series, you can catch up here.    

Dreadlocs or Not? All gone a bit…wrong! (4)

Today I am reflecting on the significance of the poppy to me. Before I came to live in Europe, I had never spared a thought about the world war 1. Not because I did not care but mainly because its significance was never impressed upon me as a person. Sadly in Africa, history is poor. It is the responsibility of a nation to hand down significant historical stories about various issues to each coming generation. Sadly, we are impoverished as a people by a government who do not feel the need to tell us stories about our past. To impress on us the need to keep in remembrance, the sacrifices made for us by generations past that have enabled us partake in this future of peace alongside the rest of the world. Recently, it emerged that Prince Charles made a trip to Nigeria in commemoration of the Armistice Centenary. Why go to Africa, I thought. Surely we were not involved in the world war 1? No sooner had I blurted out my surprise than I was corrected by my friends. Nigerians took part they said. In fact, one of my friends disclosed that his father had enlisted but never got to travel because the war ended before he could. He said it solely, with somewhat of a grief. To the extent that he described his father’s exclusion from the war as unfortunate. It was as though, the singular fact that his father did not fight in the war reduced his emotional connection to the on going commemorations that were taking place all around the world. After hearing this, I found it a bit sad that as a nation, we had mostly been deprived of our connection with the current events as a result of the omission of our historical stories from most of our lives. And so I had to find a way to connect with the wider story of war, conflict, sacrifice and now peace. In death lay the connection with this story. These veterans who we remember today fought in a physical battle. For many, their participation was voluntary but for others, they simply had no choice. There was a battle and they had to play their own part in it. Some found the prospect to be exciting while others were petrified. We all are faced with different battles in life for which we too struggle, fight, sacrifice and hope to find peace from in the end. Some of these battles are physiological (within our bodies), others are social. Some are psychological while others are cultural. I could go on and on listing the possible forms and shapes that our battles may take but the fact remains that we are constantly at war with one thing or another from within or without. For the war Veterans, the poppy emerged to commemorate their sacrifice and be for us a sign that helped us keep them in remembrance. This was rightful. Once a Canadian physician named Lieutenant Colonel John Macrae wrote a poem called In Flanders fields where he spoke about the poppy. In it he referred to poppies that grew over the graves of fallen soldiers during the war after personally burying his close friend in battle. poppies happen to grow from seeds. These seeds die to the ground before growing out beautifully. This in a way is significant in that it gives us hope about the future. That having toiled and struggled, suffered and died, like the seed, we will rise again in splendour and beauty. In his poem, Macrae wrote from the perspective of the dead, urging us the living to carry on holding the touch and fighting on till victory. Part of the poem also asks us never to forget the sacrifice of them who once were but now have fallen so that we might live. For when we forget, the poem suggests that they will not sleep so sweetly in their graves. Today, I remember many who have died fighting different wars. Some for my sake, some for the sake of others. Some even fought their own battles gallantly till the end for themselves. We remember you today and always. We hope that we too will keep on trying our best in this life to leave the world better than we met it. Not only in terms of conflict resolution but also in terms of the way we interact with the physical world- our environment. On a final note, I salute all the veterans war, current service men and even those currently enlisting. I acknowledge the sacrifices you have, are and still make for us to enjoy the freedom that has become normal. I also remember those families left behind to bear the sacrifice of losing their loved ones- those service men and women who paid the ultimate price with their lives. Thank you for reading Please see other posts Photo credit Pixabay

Reflecting on the Armistice Centenary

The Dread worms   Yeah so yesterday night I finally did it! I locked my hair!     But since I woke up today, I have been prettified….   These are not dreadlocks?!?!  They look like worms coming out of my skull.   Dread worms!   Is it me or am I missing something?   These dreadlocks look as skinny as the ones I hear people call sister locks..come on!   I told the lady that I wanted fat locks. Why do I have these as my end product?   Sometimes I wonder why I let my brain talk me into deviating from things I know.   You might argue that it is a necessary part of growing up but it still sucks!   I hear it takes time for the locks to bulk up.   Sadly, when John got his own locks, he had extensions in them so they looked fat and healthy.   These my own locks look hungry and malnourished.   Ok maybe that’s a bit harsh because they are shiny and somehow lovely.   But what if these worms don’t bulk up? I know that I am just fussing but I can’t help myself.   I can’t even express these fears because I had been going on an on about wanting dreadlocks ever since.   This is literally day 1 of my dreadlocks journey and I am not coping well at all.   Sincerely, I feel like washing them off. Perhaps the fact that these locks are temporary is a bad thing.   I keep feeling like I can abandon ship like nowish and maybe that’s not helping me confront this new reality.   “Sweetheart, these are dreadworms”, I blurted out  to John. I finally said it out loud. It felt good to admit it to someone else   instead of just bottling it up.   “Hahahahahha…like literally, you describe things so aptly”, he was looking at my hair as he spoke and could not stop laughing.   Then I think he looked at my face because he stopped laughing abruptly.   “It’s not funny. You were not supposed to agree with me silly?!” I said   “Sorry boo, they just looked like worms and to call them dread worms was just perfect”, he said again trying not to laugh.   I pouted my lips.   “I don’t think you can even relate with the way I am feeling right now”, I said angrily.   “Seriously?”, he said pretending to be amazed as he pulled at his glorious back length locks.   “You know I am the Rasta man!” he said mockingly.   “Sharrap!”,  I said sarcastically, “says the man who masked his short locks with long extensions!”, I sniped.   “Yeah, fair enough, but you remember my hair was short”, he replied, pretending to sulk.   “But did you not come home with a sample lock after the initial appointment, even that one was fatter than this”, I said in   frustration.   “That’s true, he said, but don’t forget that he used the crotchet method. It was permanent right from day one”, he added.   That was very true. Now I began wondering why I had allowed the locktician lady talk me into the twisting method.   She had said, it would give me time to see how I felt because it was temporary.  I could wash it off if it wasn’t for me. That   sounded like a good idea at the time. However, she did not warn me that the output would differ from the locks I was used to   seeing people wear on the street!   She did say I needed to be patient and “let the hair do its thing”. What thing.? This hair stood no chance. These worms!   “See if it’s any consolation, I remember this lady in my office some years ago”, he said cupping my face into his arms and   cutting through my thoughts. “She appeared one day with dreadworms”, he said smiling   “You should so trademark this your terminology”, he digressed beginning to giggle.   “Leave me John”, I said pulling away and laughing.   This guy was just too funny. Trademark? Who says that?   “See…. that made you smile”, he said “that’s my beautiful girl”.   “So wetin happen to the dreadworms colleague”, I asked   “Ehen, so she can to work with the dread….”worms” I said cutting in, “continue the gist jare!”, I said still laughing.   It looked different … and skinny. That was like 3 years ago. You know when I worked with Cooper and Holistic Associates?” I   nodded in agreement.   “Well, I ran into her last year and her locks were as big as mine and very long… intact they were beautiful?   “Really?” I asked   “Yeah” , he said smiling.   “I hope you are not just saying that to console me?” I asked   “When have I ever deceived you?” he asked   “Well…. don’t get me started” I replied smiling.   “You know what I mean boo, be serious”, he said.   “For real, her hair is long and glorious. I think you just need to give this hair time, it’s just day one. Patience is one of your   strongest virtues”, he said   With that we burst into laughter. We both knew there was absolutely no truth in that. I hated waiting…even for the bus.   But somehow, what he said made me happy. Someone with my kind of skinny locks later got huge one. Cool!   I hoped my OH was not deceiving me because, if he was, he had won.   To be continued   Photo credit Pixabay   Thank you for reading. If you missed out on other parts of the popular “Dreadlocs or Not” series, you can catch up here.

Dreadlocs or Not? The Dreadworms (3)

Finding a locktician  My OH was aware that I had come up with a new life saving plan for my hair. I was going to lock it! Yay! He really welcomed the idea. He had worn his locks for the past 8years and was quite keen to have a partner in crime. I always thought he was a boring guy with it though. He only either spread the locks on his shoulders or he packed it in a bun. Anyway, he decided to help look for a suitable person to lock my hair. One day he came home and handed me a card “Sweetheart, I don find who go help you do this your hair”. Well, he ran into a lady at the fuel station. she was handing out her complimentary cards to people. A locktician she was… “Make sure say you call am to book the appointment o!”, he warned because he knew that I was the queen of procrastination. “Yeah, yeah”,  I replied collecting the card from him. Sister locks specialist…. it read. Hmmm… which one is this again? Sister what? Please… please… I beg! I wanted dread locks not sister or brother locks. The tomboy in me hated the sister locks straight away.  “I bet it would be too subtle and girly girly”, I said “Look at this begger who has a choice”, John said. “Stupid girl! Don’t talk yourself out of calling her now!”,  he added mockingly We laughed and I tucked the card away somewhere. 3 days later passed… “Have you made the appointment?”  “Erm…no …”, I said, “I have been too busy”. “Seriously? Too busy to make a call?” he asked looking surprised. “Ok let me call her now”, I retorted feeling irritated. Talk about pest! To be continued Photo credit Pixabay. Thank you for reading. If you missed out on other parts of the popular “Dreadlocs or Not” series, you can catch up here.

Dreadlocs or not? Finding a loctician (2)

Trust me, I had said no for too long. I was too scared to enter an adventure where there was no way out. Let’s say I am the kind of girl who likes to enjoy all the options and not have to choose. If I had known that being grown up was all about making decisions, I would have stayed young.  Choices? I hated them. Why do we have to choose? Why can’t we have everything? While choices gave people freedom, they constricted my ability to have everything available. How could one ever choose one thing over the other? Every option had pros and cons. Why could people not just have all the options so that they could enjoy the pros and not have to worry about the cons. So what has this got to do with my day Yes in the dreadlocks journey? Well, Let’s just say… it was a choice I had to make. Choosing to have my hair locked means that I would be choosing to have one hair style. I would be “choosing” long streaks of hair on my head instead of having the varied options and versatility I enjoy with my fro.  See what I mean? With my Afro, I do not  have to choose one look  I can Weave it, Plait it, Pack it in a bun Add some extensions or simply wear it as it is….as an Afro! With the dreadlocks, I will lose these options. However, that said, I find myself feeling frustrated most times. I have no time to make my hair as often as I need to. Now in my second year at university, I find myself prioritising my studies over my hair, as you would expect. To be fair, with student life on full gear. I was combing away the glory from my hair. I literally went from long hair to short hair because I was combing it so often in less than a month. I was not happy with my hair at all. I even contemplated chopping off the hair for the sake of peace. Until… I reconsidered my decision about the wearing  dreadlocks. Since I was willing to snip off the hair for the sake of convenience, this seemed like a more viable option. I heard that all I needed was a locktician say every 6-8 weeks to relock and absolutely nothing apart from oil my hair in between. I heard that locking my hair will allow the hair grow as nature intended I would miss my Afro though, but I heard that with time when the dreadlocks had grown, I style it in different ways.  So it would not even be monotonous after all. That was right up my street. Trust me. I think this was a seriously good idea. But how on earth would I lock my hair. Who would do it for me?    To be continued. Photo credit Pixabay Thank you for reading. If you missed out on other parts of the popular “Dreadlocs or Not” series, you can catch up here.

Dreadlocs or Not? A leap into the unknown (1)

I wish that university were all about attending lectures, meeting new people and attending different school social events. Sadly wishes are not horses in real life therefore I cannot have such a free ride through the university education. Assessments happen at university to give students the opportunity to evidence the fact that they have understood every learning outcome proposed by the module leader at the start of the programme. When I first began the nursing programme, I realised after a few lectures that I would have many assessments. Some were examinations, essays and even practical. There never seemed to be enough time to study. We had lectures nearly four times a week initially. As a mature student I still had my family, work and personal commitments to balance against that. I also had to be prepared for the lectures. There was no use attending a class without adequate preparation. That just made it difficult to get the best out of the interactive sessions on offer. In no time, I began to struggle. I fell behind on schoolwork and I knew I could not meet up with the demands of university unless I made some changes. It became apparent that I had to make sacrifices, compromises and tough choices if I wanted to succeed. Below are a few tips that helped me along the way Acknowledge your struggle It is quite normal to feel lost as a student. From the perspective of being a parent-student, it feels more daunting. As a parent, there is the assumption that you will always know what to do when things get tough. However, this is not always the case. It is alright to acknowledge that you cannot always have the answers. Fighting the feeling by refusing to confront the reality of school becoming overwhelming can be like struggling in quicksand. It almost always ends one way- with you sinking deeper and deeper. Realising that you will remain at a loss unless things change is always a good first step.   Talk to other students It really helps when you ask other students about their experience of university. Sometimes it can make your feelings less alienating. It was such a relief to hear that other students in my cohort were experiencing the same challenges as me. It provided the opportunity for us to share ideas. I learnt from them what was working and felt more confident about trying to make my studies work. Attend university support events While it seems obvious, in reality, support events organised by the university can sometimes feel like an additional task to add to an already over squeezed time. However, I found them to be very helpful. At University of Northampton, there are many sessions offered to students by the learning development/library team. They teach time management, timetabling, note-making, rest and self-reward yourself to sustain your interest and motivation. Come up with a plan. Sometimes, plans are easier to view when they are written down. Something called “being organised” happens when you write out all you have to do. It really makes sense. By the time you know all that needs doing and balance that against the time you have available to achieve them, it becomes a bit easier to come up with a plan. Such a plan may be as simple as prioritising your activities, changing work shift patterns, cutting down on housework, parties, accepting more help from family and friends. These little strategies can make a big difference to your ability to cope better with the demands of university. Create time for study Spreading out activities through the week instead of cramping them all up into a day gets them done at a slow and less exhausting pace. Doing too much in a day can be overwhelming and tiring. However, spreading activities through the week can free up time within the day for studies. For example, many mature students find that they sometimes try to do all their housework and have no time to study. They find that by undertaking a little housework at a time or delegating tasks to others they free up time that can be used to rest or study.   Study smart Being a smart studier is not just about having big brains. It is also about learning to make the best out of the pockets of time you spend studying. There is really no use reading for hours when you are not clear about what the focus of the study would be. Being more specific about what needs doing ensures that you maximise every available study time that you create. Having a timetable or essay plan can be helpful. Referring to learning outcomes for each topic also helps to focus your study. The learning outcomes are the module leader’s way of telling you what you should be learning within the subject. It is also their way of telling you what will be assessed. Academic study has to be specific to be effective. Use your reading lists When you first start the course after a long study break, getting to grips with how to use the physical library, electronic library or how to get relevant study materials can be daunting. Referring to the reading list provided for the module you are studying can help save time. The reference lists within relevant books in the reading lists can also provide books with higher likelihood of relevance to your study. Make an appointment with the academic librarians If you are really struggling, make an appointment to see the academic librarian. They are happy to give direction and answer questions related to using the online library, essay writing and other academic skills. They have flexible appointments that can be either Skype or face to face. Every little always helps When you are a student sometimes you need some more non- academic help along the way. It can be in form of kind offers of assistance from family and friends to help take some of the strain off. A good […]

Nursing Diaries: Lessons from my first year

Waterside With the start of the new session came the long awaited move to waterside. It was to be the meet to all our learning expectations- from state of the art lecture solutions, to equipment and even ambience. It also promised to be a grand site in terms of space and facilities.   We made our way to the new parking facility in town. I could not help but notice the ease of transferring from my vehicle into the park and ride bus. It was an amazingly well thought out arrangement by the university. The bus stop shared the same fence as the parking lot. That reduced the bus-catching anxiety I had been experiencing during the summer holidays each time I thought about waterside.   Once at uni, the wifi initially seemed to have a mind of its own. New site hiccups! Some of the equipment in the lecture halls had not been completely set up. I felt like I was part of the new university history that was unfolding. It was nice to witness when some of the lecturers tore off the plastic from the brand new white boards in the classrooms. We all sat in silence like children waiting for lollies to be distributed.   Each floor in our building, The learning hub, belonged to various faculties, all the different floors had their own libraries and lecture halls. So no longer did we have to go to the library, the library had come to us! It was such a clever and more convenient solution to borrowing books. Waterside was exciting.   Then came the turn of our lecturers. They appeared curious about how to weigh our expectations because they kept asking us what we thought about the new campus?   So here is my answer…   In just a few words, I can only describe it as breath taking.   But why use a few words to describe such a masterpiece?   To find such beauty interwoven within a busy bustling town centre filled with various attractions is unbelievable.   I decided to explore the campus and ventured out on foot. During the walk I witnessed the natural artistry provided by the proximity of the school to the popular river Nene. Splashes of colours were provided by the greens trees, grasses, grey stones, droopy trees that touch the lake surrounding the school ever caressingly. It evoked an ecstatic feeling within me of being lost in the beauty of nature.   I walked past another view of the university as I entered from the lock where I witnessed architectural grandeur and craftsmanship. A solid wood-like bridge took me through different shades of green and brown coloured leaves accented by a touch of the autumn. Although, I was walking across it with my own two feet, the refreshing feeling of being amidst nature made me feel like I was sailing across river Nene with the bridge as a sort of immobile mode of transport. The breeze on my skin, refreshed my endless walk around the new campus as i explored the views on display.   The buildings towered around delicately all fitting into the jigsaw puzzle of serenity that the school had so painstakingly designed. There were the creative and learning hubs all towering above. They had a classy business like feel that reminded one of their rightful place within the campus as hubs that would warehouse lots of faculties and departments. With time, no longer would university of Northampton be a school of many campuses because finally most departments were to coexist alongside one another in the new campus. There were also shops, a post office, coffee bars and little pockets of relaxation spread around the buildings to keep students refreshed in different ways.   The ambience and calm as one walked around proposed a lot of support for learning, assimilation and reflection. Things advertised by the university as what waterside was all about.   At the end of my walk, I reconsidered my initial reservations about the omission of the car park from the new campus. What my leisurely walk had revealed to me was the wisdom in that decision by the university. Within the first week of resumption, I felt like I had walked more than I had managed to do in the past couple of months. That was definitely good for me.   I also discovered that the commute by bus from the well designed free car parking had enabled me take in the beautiful city of Northampton where I had been learning for the past year and never even had the time to explore. I have now finally seen the rich town whose beauty testifies to its age, culture and history. Thank you for reading You can click here to see my views about the university on BBC Look east England. Read the article on the university website Written by Lauretta Ofulue

Nursing Diaries: The new campus by the Waterside

The LOES! Seriously, is that even a thing? Well, let’s make it a thing just for today. I cannot even take any credit for being nice to the lady I gave a coin to make up her change on the bus today. She was so grateful. The funny part was that when she sat back down in her chair, she found the elusive pound at the bottom of her big bag. As you will expect, she came back to give me the coin. But I declined it. “Take it as a gift from me to you,” I said. “Oh bless,” She said replacing her initial hesitation with gratitude. But still I cannot take any glory for that act. I was just paying it back as they say. Having experienced such kindness from a stranger myself in the past. I was desperate to replicate that feeling towards someone else even in the smallest of ways. How many times have I been dug out of a deep end by people- strangers. I don’t know about you but I never seem to find so called close friends to care enough to be as selfless as I have experienced from many a stranger. With my feeling of disappointment sometimes, I use it as a gauge to measure my own self. Could it be that I too have not been a friend indeed when they were in need? Could it even be that I have expressed ingratitude in the past when they did smaller things albeit unknowingly? Could it be that I have implied that I prefer to be left as an island of my own wanting no help from others? Or maybe my attitude has sometimes left me vulnerable. I can be boastful and proud of my achievements sometimes. A flaw I find difficult to apologise about. But a flaw that may be the culprit for the price of alienation I now detest. But alas the other part of the story lies with them. I cannot take all the blame no matter how magnanimous I can be in heart. It takes two to tango.   Somehow strangers always step up to the plate. I like it and can never find them to say enough thank yous. So I hope that by paying back the kindness towards another stranger I too can somehow say my piece. Actions they say speak louder than words. Although, I have not done enough to match all the kindness I have ever received, I hope that one day soon I too may be worthy to join the league of extraordinary strangers. Photo credits go to Pixabay.com. Cool guys whose pictures helped bring this story to life 😉 Picture 1 Picture 2 Picture 3 Picture 4

The League of Extraordinary Strangers (The LOES)

I was asked to write an article recently titled “Understanding me”. It was a positive request borne out of the curiosity of particular groups of health care staff who cared for our son Otito. I have published it because we hope that it can give others who care for families and their children with complex health needs insights into how confusing it can be for those families. Families place a great deal of trust in health care professionals (HCPs). Sometimes, for legal reasons, HCPs take step back from families who need their crucial input when making crucial decisions about the care of their loved ones. This is the era of human rights and they don’t want to be seen as pushy. If you read the article further, you will see our case study as a family and how it would have made a huge difference to us if our HCPs steered us in the right direction rather than handing the reigns over to us. We had absolutely no clue what we were doing. Why were they asking us to decide? After all, they were the professionals.   I later got to learn that parents are the best professionals with regards to the care of their loved ones. When this statement is made, what is taken for granted is that professionalism comes from experience. Yes today, I can say, I am… or rather we as a family were experts with regards to all things pertaining to Otito. However, at the start we were absolutely clueless. It was very scary for us as a family to find ourselves being left to make decisions about if Otito needed to have various key procedures or not… you know, that thing called consent. I hope you find this article useful. Well. without any further ado, lets begin the article ….   UNDERSTANDING ME   When our son Otito was born, little did we know about what lay ahead. He had been diagnosed with a metabolic condition called propionic acidaemia and it made his body unable to break down his proteins properly. It made him very sick because his body built up dangerous toxins called ammonia instead. As a mother, I felt extremely overwhelmed by the whole situation.   What went well? After he was born, he needed to have a dialysis to clean his blood and reduce the Ammonia levels. He was only 3 days old. I think that the medical staff realised that we were extremely anxious. Most of the staff were very patient with us and answered most of our questions. One particular nurse asked us to take photos to show him when he was older. I thought that was a positive statement because seeing him with all the tubes and machines made me constantly feel that he was going to die. I could not imagine how someone so little would survive all the poking and prodding from all the staff. It was not what I had envisioned his first few days of life to be. I kept being told by staff that it was for the best.   I said very little at the time but I was very impressed at how members of staff were sensitive to my unexpressed feelings. They explained every process to me. Most of the staff went beyond looking after my son and extended some of the care and attention to me. This made me feel very happy and valued. I had delivered him through a caesarean section. One morning, a nurse on duty asked me how I was feeling. Upon realising that I did not have a natural birth, my hospital hotel room was changed to one with a lift access to ease the stress of using the stairs. I felt very well supported and more able to contemplate a life with a sick child.   What did not go well? Subsequent months made us realise the extent of our son’s ill health. I thought that the staff did not do enough as the months progressed to prepare us for what to expect. Otito struggled to keep up with his calories on a daily basis. He needed to consume a fixed minimum amount of calories daily to provide his body with enough energy. The problem with the inability of his body to use proteins was not limited to his diet. When his body attempted to use his own body’s proteins, it also encountered the same problem. His body also built up toxins instead of converting the proteins into energy. Not keeping up with this daily minimum calories made him very unwell.   His consultant suggested that he needed a gastrostomy to help him maintain the minimum calorie requirement. I had never heard of a gastrostomy before. As a result, I could not contemplate a life for my son with a hole in his stomach. All I could see every time I was told about this device was the big hole that will be on his stomach and so I declined.   What was important to me? As a parent, information was very important to me. I found it very hard to build trust with health care professionals easily because I had been let down a few times within the first few months as a carer to my son. I was very protective. I just kept being told about what my son needed and at the same time, I was told that the decision was up to me. It was an intimidating position to be in. Here I was as a novice mum to a sick child (with a condition I could not pronounce) being made responsible for something as important as his nutrition.   I was very scared of getting it wrong. I saw the idea of accepting the gastrostomy as synonymous with accepting defeat. I did not want to give up on my son’s ability to feed. I was properly informed about the fact that it was his medical condition worsening his appetite. The more I tried […]

Understanding me … not just me but our needs as a family with a sick child.

One day, Tolu and her sister came home from school. It had been a very hot day and they were very very thirsty. They went into the fridge in the kitchen to get some water to drink. When they got there, they did not find the plastic bottles of sealed water that their mum always bought for them. They found some bottles of water in the fridge that had no names on them. These bottles were plain. Tolu and Dami ran to their mother who was by the beach on the other side of the house. “Good afternoon ma” the girls chorused “Ekabo” their mum replied in their native Yoruba language. “Please ma we did not find any of our usual bottled water in the fridge and we are really thirsty” they said looking surprised. “Oh my darling girls” their mum said ” our borehole tap water is now working. “What is a bore hole ma?” the girls asked their mother. That was when their mum explained to the girls what the borehole tap water was. It is also called pipe- borne water. This is because the water that comes from the tap, passes through pipes. Now, because the water can be very far below the ground, a machine is used to pump the water from the ground into a tank. The water then comes from the tank into the house through the pipes that are cleverly connected to the tank. in the end, when you open the tap, the water then pours out of the tap from the pipes. The water that come from the bore hole is usually very clean and good for drinking because it comes from the water table. The girls were very happy after their mum had reassured them about the water in the fridge and so they ran back into the house to have a refreshing glass of tap water. Thank you for reading. Photo credit: Pixabay

The Borehole Tap

Unlike most branches of nursing, people with learning disabilities are not sick, neither are they in need of treatment to get well. They are just very wonderful and brave people like you and I making the best of their lives despite the physical or intellectual challenges they may have. It is fair to say that as a result, people with learning disabilities can be found within all walks of life. As a Learning Disability Nursing student, I am certainly kept busy. Monday – lectures and seminars Within a typical week I do many things, but of course I have lectures throughout the week. These are always a relaxed opportunity to learn from very experienced staff. The sessions can vary in terms of structure, content and length. They comprise mainly seminar style sessions where lecturers deliver presentations that educate us about the theoretical underpinnings required for effective practice. It is also always fun at the University and interact with other members of the cohort. They are a lively bunch of people who spice up the classes with discussions and laughter! Lectures provide the chance for us to share our experiences and interact amongst one another during sessions in a respectful way. This cross-pollination of ideas gives us the chance to expand our learning by gaining from other people’s experiences. During lectures, we are able to provide feedback about aspects of theory that are difficult to implement within the different settings we find ourselves during placements. The lecturers in turn use their knowledge and experiences to support us by providing us with helpful strategies to help us improve. Tuesday – simulation exercises and life-saving skills The University of Northampton has simulation suites where we are taught the hands-on, practical aspects of nursing. For example, we learn how to give injections and perform basic life support for adults and children using dummies. We are also taught how to carry out observations like temperature, blood pressure and check heart rates. I find these sessions extremely useful because they provide me with the chance to practice these essential skills safely. The idea of learning and practicing with dummies feels less unnerving. I would not possibly have acquired the skills by performing them first on human beings rather than dummies because of the trial and error element that can occur when acquiring new skills. Wednesday & Thursday – placements The most interesting part of the week comes during the placement. Learning disability nursing students have the privilege of being placed within very varied settings. The nature of each setting depends on where the needs of people with learning disabilities are being met. Today, I found myself sitting in the park accompanying clients alongside members of staff. And guess what we were doing? Soaking up the sunshine after another intense but rewarding day! Earlier on, I had supported the clients with their personal care as well as their nutritional and medication needs. Within the activities involved in meeting these different needs, came the chance to learn from experienced staff and to practice performing them to the high standards I was taught at university based on the regulatory expectations. Friday – developing communications skills The hard work of personalising the care I provide based on the patient’s wishes takes a lot of psychological input. Listening to and communicating with clients are both exhausting and rewarding exercises. However, nothing beats getting it just as right as the client desires. These are skills that come with the practice and exposure of being within a setting, because they cannot be simulated. Luckily, the theoretical skills provided during today’s University session keeps my communication toolbox well equipped. On different days, I perform different roles within my placement. This is in addition to the ones I mentioned earlier and may involve accompanying clients to appointments, keeping them entertained and supporting clients to perform activities that are important to them. The good news is that within the placement area, I am assigned a mentor who supports and structures my learning experience. There is also a University-linked tutor who visits the practice periodically to direct my learning and make sure all is going well. My personal academic tutor is also on hand to provide guidance. As a result I feel well supported and never pressured. The weekend – time for some ‘R & R’ Finally, my days off have become all the more precious now because of my busy schedule. I end my week relaxing with family and friends. I learnt about the value of time management, rest and reward during a session organised by the learning and development team at the University. As much as the pressures of family life and endless responsibilities weigh heavily on me as a mature student, ensuring that I strike the right balance means that I am able to fully recharge myself physically, mentally and psychologically. I enjoy watching movies, listening to music and dancing in my spare time. After all, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy! You can click this here to read the post on my uni website For more about the LD Nursing course at University of Northampton, see their website. To follow my nursing diary please click here. Written by Lauretta Ofulue

Nursing Diaries- A week in the life of a Learning Disability nursing student

Lauretta decided to use her personal experience of being mother to a child called Otito who had a learning disability (LD) to good use helping parents in a similar situation by coming to University of Northampton this year and training to become an LD nurse. She blogs about why this branch of nursing is a profession you might want to consider… Being there for people I became a student nurse out of a desire to carry on supporting people with learning disabilities and their families. Someone asked me: why Learning Disability nursing? Well, my answer was quite simple. I want to be there for that mum, dad or person who is living with very complex health needs. I want to give a voice to those people in society who are easily overlooked because they understand the world in a different way. I want to help others understand and uphold the rights of people with learning disabilities and their families. I see the care I will provide as a privilege. Families who have loved ones with learning disabilities are very protective of them because of their vulnerability. Becoming a Learning Disability nurse means that I will be trained specifically to look after people with learning disabilities. I believe it to be a position of trust that gives a family the confidence to delegate the care of their loved one to someone else who will understand the unique needs of their loved one and their family as a whole. I believe strongly that the fact that a person cannot understand or express their needs in the usual fashion does not diminish their opinion. I want to support and encourage them to make their own choices and help others learn to make adjustments to accommodate their needs. The course so far The learning environment at the University of Northampton is very friendly. There is an atmosphere of real interaction that the lecturers create during the seminars. Students are encouraged to contribute during sessions and the camaraderie among us is excellent! We are able to interact with other members of the cohort irrespective of their discipline. From the onset, the philosophy of “being brilliant” nurses is instilled in us – the sessions provide the opportunity for students to exercise their tolerance, respect and professionalism while contributing or addressing one another during sessions. I have made many friends both within learning disability nursing and the wider nursing cohort. This is also helpful because our relationships provide the opportunity to cross-pollinate ideas, ask questions and sometimes just chat. The lectures are excellent. They give us the opportunity to acquire the theoretical knowledge that forms the basis for the things we see in practice. It answers many of the questions about why procedures are performed. The lecturers give us essays and assignments that encourage us to search the literature further for evidence. The interactive nature of the sessions means that we learn more. When other students ask questions, we are able to expand our understanding through contributions from different members of the cohort. It improves our critical thinking as nurses which is an essential skill all nurses have to possess. As nurses, we are taught to question what we do so that we can use the best and most up to date evidence when delivering care to our patients. We have simulation sessions. They are very helpful because they provide us with the opportunity to practice on dummies. This remote practice allows us to learn without worrying about hurting an actual person. It gives us the confidence to undertake supervised procedures while in practice. Nursing placements The nursing programme includes attendance of placement learning opportunities in different institutions. These include the NHS, schools as well as other private and voluntary sectors. There is an excellent preparatory week to ease us gradually into placement. Students are told what to expect and allowed to ask questions about their concerns. There is also the student support team who attend the sessions to reassure students and offer support. They provide links to various types of support including academic, financial and psychological support. During placements, the University links us in with lecturers who follow us in practice to provide support. They are friendly, helpful and easy to talk to. They also provide technical support for our online practice portfolio. Challenges met and tackled Mostly, this was time management. As a mature student, it can be very difficult to manage the work, life balance. At the start of the course, the University offered support for this through the learning development team and it was very helpful. We were taught about how simple things like time tabling, making notes and maximising the times we spent reading made a difference to our study. I also learnt the importance of rest, leisure and self-reward. Removal of the nursing bursary It was very sad when the announcement was made about the bursary withdrawal. However, my reason for joining the course was not material. I really wanted to earn a living by making a difference in another person’s life. As far as I was concerned, it was a little hurdle to overcome. I did not let it stop me. I came in to the course with a lot of lived experience as a parent-carer and I hoped that it would make a difference to caring for others. After my son passed away, I began supporting other families who had loved ones with learning disabilities. However, I knew that what I lacked was the theory to underpin my practice. Coming to university means that I can gain the skills needed to back up the knowledge I possess as a result of my lived experience. I also hope that my lived experience allows me to empathise easily with those that I care for in future because I too understand how it feels to be on the receiving end of care. My hope is to help transform the care that people with learning disabilities and their families get. Should I become […]

Nursing Diaries- Why I decided to become a Learning Disability nurse

Hi, my name is Sweetie and I am pleased to meet you all. It’s so much fun to be in this photo shoot outside the house and covered in leaves.. Mark took me out with mummy and I think it was really thoughtful! Haha…I imagined this would be the teddy’s vote of thanks for all the attention he got today. If you are like me, you have one silent member of the family sitting around the home. Teddy bears and soft toys? How could we ever survive our kids without them. Well this one is called “Sweetie”. Well, I will tell you how she came to be found outdoors covered in leaves and looking like a samurai. We went stone picking. Stone picking is a lovely fun family activity. These are the items you need: 1. A plastic bag for collecting the stones 2. Your fingers for picking the stones😀 3. A footpath or safe road with stones lying around 4. Lots of imagination- to save you picking clustered sand instead of stones 5. Lots of energy for fun. Oh! Did I forget to say-some good weather if you are in luck? It’s a nice activity that costs absolutely nothing but promises to be lots of fun for all the family. It can get your children all excited and give you the opportunity to spend some quality time with the kids. A note of warning though- It can get very messy because some of the most beautiful stones tend to hide in the mud🤡😂😂 But please don’t let that stop you. Stone picking must be an art. It is the process by which you let boredom push you out of your sulky corner into the streets in search of pebbles. It sounds funny but in all honesty that is simply what it is. Nothing more…nothing less. After collecting the stones, you will need some time to get them washed. I usually soak them with some soap and bleach to kill any germs and make them safe for handling. You can let them drip into an old towel and in no time, you would be ready for some fun with the kids. Today, we chose to arrange the stones into different shapes. It was so much fun. It allowed Mark use his imagination.To all the kids out there, keep having fun!! Enjoy the rest of your day. Thank you for reading

Teddy’s day out (Activity)

  Hello all you hope whisperers. Yes! I said it. Today I decided to bring you something a bit different. A little boy I know asked me what I did as my hobby. I told him that I did very many things but the one I liked most was writing. He asked me to show him something I had written so that he could read. Well, as you may have guessed, I had absolutely nothing that would interest a 6 year old. That’s why I wrote this story. At least this way, I would have something to present to this child. I enjoyed writing it. I have been overwhelmed by the response it received. He shared it with friends at school. His class teacher even asked if I could come and read it to the little ones. They knew nothing about wells, dry season, rainy season and the things that make us remember and miss Africa. It’s an absolute honour to share my culture. I hope you enjoy it and share it with your kids too. And the story begins… One day in a little village called Ketawa. There lived a man known as Yusinga. He was the Chief in Ketawa. Ketawa had only one chief and his job was to lead the village. He was a very wise chief and when the people did not know what to do, they came to him to help them solve their problems. It was very hot in Yusinga and the people were very thirsty. For many days it did not rain. Normally when it rained, the people put out their buckets and collected rain water from the roof tops. But in the dry season when it did not rain, the people would begin to suffer because there would be no other way to get water. The nearest stream was too far away. Even when they got to the stream the people of Idumika the next village would fight them because they claimed the stream as their own. The people of Ketawa were peaceful people who did not like to fight. So they would go back home and go thirsty for many days. They needed water to make their food and water to wash their hands. They also needed water to bathe themselves and help them feel cool. Water was so important but every time the rain went away in the dry season, the people suffered. One day, the chief came up with an idea to help his people have water everyday. He asked the people in the village to dig the ground in search of water. Many people thought that it was strange to look for water below the ground. But the chief was very sure that there was water beneath the ground they were standing. His clever son who learnt to read when the missionaries came to Ketawa had read it in a book. They dug out lots of earth. They dug deep and deep into the ground. They dug and dug for days until they found water below the ground. From that day on, there was always water in the well because the water below the ground came from the water table. In the rainy season, the wells were shallow because rain water that penetrated the earth made the water table rise. However, in the dry season, the water in the well was very deep because the heat made the water evaporate. To fetch water from the deep wells, the people tied very thick long ropes to buckets. When they put the buckets down into the well with the long ropes, they collected water from the well and pulled it up to the top. It was very very hard work. The little children were not allowed to fetch the water from the well because it was not safe. In the dry season, the people did not go thirsty because they still had water in the well. They used longer ropes to lower their buckets deeper into the ground in search of water. The people were very happy and took turns to collect water from the well. They lived happily ever after. Thank you for reading. Photo credit Pixabay

The Wise Chief of Ketawa (Children’s Story)

I tell you the things I see in my mind’s eye when they are shut. I do so because I think that they make you see into me. They give you a glimpse of my true self. But when things unfold I realise that I should have been more silent. Those words should have sat within my fragile self like an egg within its shell.   I see you when I lose all control. You come to me to remind me of who I am. As I set my eyes on you all animosity fades. The bitterness I feel melts away as your presence warms my heart. The hardness that freezes my heart over is thawed by the warmth of your love.   I kiss your forehead in my mind’s eye. Within the earth I find you. I see through the roughage that enshrouds you. I recognise you even with your disguise. My spirit finds you within the tempest of my anguish.   It’s okay… It’s okay. You whisper through your hard lips of clay. I see into your spirit and the view is clear to me. As I look right into the hidden beauty encased, I hear you loudly and clearly.   It’s okay… It’s truly okay. I miss the times we used to share just you and me together. I remember them and I smile   Now you think that I am crazy. All because I act like I do. I am not crazy. I am just a boy in love. I love you more than love itself. Maybe that too is a crime… my crime. But I will not be found guilty.   There was once a time When I would not have minded where this love would lead. But now I do. Your words reveal how lonely my love for you is. In the heat of anger truth often unfolds. Within the arrows of cruel words lie the darts of reality.   I will not emburden you with the weight of a love it appears I alone hold true I take it right back into the depths of me. I will carry this love-cross alone. I see now that the love I shared with you was meant for me. The last piece of love I offered you within it lay my sanity.   Thank you for reading.

Love Shroud

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This is a story about a man and his wife…. One day the wife was in their bedroom knitting a sweater for their grandchild. She had woken up very early and completed all the tasks that needed doing around their small bungalow. She made herself a cup of tea and sat by the window knitting. Well, soon, the lovely sunlight lost its rays to a thick cloud that began to form in the sky. The weather man had predicted a possibility of light showers. The woman was not disturbed. She was going to enjoy the different levels of light that were dimming and brightening the room. As long as she could see her crotchet needle, her senses would do the rest. Knitting was a hobby she had enjoyed for many years and she joked sometimes about being able to knit with her eyes closed. The only light she needed was at the start when she made the first knot. She prayed silently that her husband would be engrossed with whatever he was doing. Often times, he came in to commence his switch on activity around the house as soon as he saw the slightest darkness. She hated the lights in the daytime. Nothing beats natural light to her. However, he did it with such love and affection mostly teasing her about preserving her eyes so that she could see him when they were old and grey. Her frown and vehement requests to the contrary were always replaced by his good intentions. No No No he always said. You need the light! Well, as she sat there knitting and listening to the birdsong by her window, she could smell the green grass as her neighbour mowed the adjacent lawn. She knew she should shut the windows to avoid a bout of hay fever but she didn’t. She was sitting at a position that you only got once in a lifetime. She felt so comfortable and did not want to move from the spot where she was sitting. She had struck the perfect balance between cushion softness, hand angling and crotchet needle holding. She could feel her glasses hang off her nose at that perfect angle where it felt like it would fall off but stayed put because of the tilt she had achieved with her head. It was just a perfect knitting morning. Then suddenly, just as she dreaded, he entered the room. “Click” He switched on the light before she could even find her voice. It was too late. She exhaled the deep breath with which she meant to say “don’t turn on the light!”. Well it was done now. No use wasting her breath. As he left the room, he shut the door which she had left slightly ajar. Now the room was quiet. So quiet, she could hear her thoughts. “What’s wrong with this man?” she wondered.”I was listening to the music”. He did not even bother to ask her if she wanted the door shut. He assumed that just because she was knitting, she wanted peace and quiet. Well she did, but not in the literal sense. She wanted just enough sounds to keep her mind from drifting. She wanted the sounds from the lounge to filter in and hang above the loudness of her quiet thoughts. He just assumed… After an hour of knitting, the arrival of hunger in her belly made her jump without thinking. She needed food! Who would have thought that knitting would be such hard work? Well maybe if she did not muster all the mental strength to keep herself from drowning in her loudly quiet thoughts. As she walked into the lounge, she saw that he had set up the flower pot on the large desk in the living room. On the top of the table beneath the vase were lots of old newspapers. He had formed a bed with them and taped them down with some masking tape. He was busy painting the vase. She walked up to him and saw that he was painting the long vase with a brush with bristles as thin as her nail vanish brush. “This brush is too small” she said “I am not in a hurry’ he replied “It’s not about how long it would take to paint, its about how it would look in the end” she said “Well, I am not complaining” he replied irritatingly “Oh dear, who said you were complaining”, she retorted. “Well, you are disturbing me”, he said “What! I was only trying to help”, she replied, sounding hurt. “Well no one asked for your help”, he said “That’s really a horrible thing to say” she replied “Well, I know what I am doing!”, he said still focussing on his painting. She looked at him. She could feel herself beginning to fume. If only she could get him to listen. He always took a brash stand if he felt threatened and it always offended her. “See, I did not say that you did not know what you were doing. We all know what we are doing. However, that does not mean that there are not many ways of doing the things we know. Perhaps considering those alternatives broaden our view about how to do the things we know how to do. It can even make us question them and give us other alternatives”, she said. “Well, I know what I am doing. I don’t know why you are here disturbing me. Considering that when I came into the room and saw you knitting, I only supported and helped you. Why can’t you do the same for me?”he said. “Helped me? She said sounding alarmed. “No you did no such thing. You assumed that you helped me but you stressed me. In fact that’s why I am here to find something to eat. You switched on the light which you know I hate in the day. You shut the door and left me to drown in my thoughts. Now I […]

The man and his wife- A Story about listening

As ridiculous as it might sound, it does take a lot of courage to let go of stuff… When I say stuff, I mean things that you have, own and acquire over time. You buy some, you get given some, you steal some (not steal steal, but take when no one is watching), or you just have some. In the end, you find that you have all this stuff cluttered around you. Well for some, they are not just clutter, they are their belongings. I had a recent encounter when I stayed at a hotel on a short family break. When I walked in, my first impression was that of serenity. It was quiet both literally and paradoxically. It was a room with a luxurious looking double bed, a table from which protruded a tv stand that held what appeared to be a 40 inch flat screen. There were also some soft lightings on the ceiling. The room was free of clutter. I felt so relaxed as soon as I beheld the simple furnishings. That was when I began to imagine a world free of clutter. In fact it was an impossibility for me even though the idea was very alluring. You see, when I planned my living space, that was the idea before life happened. The entry of wife, kids, new family and friends meant that I lost that serenity. Suddenly one gift or purchase after another left my life overflowing with stuff. My walls became important display spaces for nearly every milestone on earth. I hung up pictures and paintings on every space and set up a gallery of memories with them. I agree they were lovely but that did not stop them being noisy. Please let’s not talk about the fridge. That doubled as a magnet holder and reminder. The silly capitalists with their endless sales and adverts have left my closets overflowing with shoes, clothes and other things that I can only categorise as bric-a-brac. My house now feels like that of the old lady who lived in a shoe only I am a man and my problem is not that I have too many children just that I have too much stuff. Rather than spending all this money escaping to hotels just to experience the peace and tranquility of a clutter free space, perhaps I should just declutter my stuff. That my friend, is easier said than done. Where would I start from? Each stuff that I possess contains a memory of the moment that brought it to life. I think it’s now a bit like autism if you ask me. These things are an extension of me. I can’t throw them away. I used to be able to donate them to charity. Tie them in the respective charity bags and hand them to prospective new owners. Then it did not feel like they were being thrown away. They were re-homed. I experienced the peace of knowing that they were not just being incinerated. Well that all ended when I read in a group type thing forum that they did not always end up in good condition by the time they got to the supposed charities. As a result, they got disposed off. So now, I am back to where I started. I feel like I am officially a hoarder. When I manage to relinquish ownership of stuff  I buy even more. I do not buy new stuff any more because I literally have no space for a new addition. It’s good because I save money…but not really though if I still spend it on these secret escapes. I have toyed with the idea of acquiring a new home for stuff  but you and I know that it will only worsen the problem. So yes, unlike most, I cannot have a spring clean.   Thank you for reading Photo credit Pixabay

It’s no use having a spring clean

My dear boy, All I can really say is that I miss you like crazy…. Since you left me there has been a wide hole that nothing has been able to fill. This is our first summer without you. It is so quiet that the silence of your absence in our lives is deafening. I knew you were a big character when you were here in my life and I am thankful to God that I never wasted any moment we shared. I have found myself wishing for many things but maybe she is right. I met her, I told her all my feelings. She was neutral and her neutrality gave me a safety net to express my innermost and darkest pains. Many deep rooted feelings that clutched at my heart and filled it with grief. After I spoke with her, I felt lighter and the grief seemed to have vamoosed… It was a feeling of relief, weightlessness. No longer did I bear the weight of the grief that I dragged around. I grew wings after I met her. I believed I could fly. So I began testing the wings I grew as a result of my encounter with her. No sooner had I planned and begun executing my first flight than I realised that my moves seemed to revolve back around my loss. She drew my attention to it when we met again. “Are you sure that you are not now filling the void with all these plans?”, she asked to my irritation. “NO!!!!”, I screamed. How could she even possibly feel that. It just felt like she was rubbishing the progress I felt that I was making. “You are moving too fast, you are too decisive, perhaps you need to think things through a little bit more before you commit to it”, her scrawny voice said. “OMG now she is sounding like my mother”, I thought. Sometimes I wonder why she cannot just be happy for me. Why all these irritating comments. She was becoming so negative to occupy the position I placed her in my life. I sat in silence and considered her words. Was she right? Could there be any sense in her words? She was after all on my side. You know since I was a child, I always did everything very fast. I never took too much time to make decisions or reach conclusions. The only thing that ever moved slowly in my life was pregnancy. It was the only thing I could not rush or create shortcuts for. But perhaps decisions that had to be taken post- grief needed like she said to be considered carefully. It is always a bad idea to make decisions when under stress. Grief is a very stressful time. My question today though is: How long is long enough? Will this ever be over? Will life ever be the same? The good news is that with my faith I know that I serve a good God who makes everything ok in the end. When I got home, I shook off scary whispers. I did not want anything to hold me back. For the first time in ages, I felt like I could move on. It has been so hard these past few weeks since Otito my angelboy passed away but when I woke up I thought that it was finally time to confront the big question “what next?”. What was I going to do with the rest of my life. Before becoming a parent carer, I had dreams of becoming a manager one day. A manager of businesses, people, data and all that. Bagging a degree in Economics from a prestigious university gave me a good start. Within a few years, I was climbing up the ladder. Life was good. It’s fair to say that I was living the dream. Well all that changed when I moved to England. The career dream stalled a bit-the perks of relocation. In no time, I settled nicely into a humble role at the bottom of the organisational ladder in the company that I joined (to be fair bottom sounds a bit harsh, make that the start of the ladder). Happy days… a quick maternity break and hey presto! My luck changed forever. I did not plan to have a sick child but it happened anyway. Not long afterwards I assumed the role as parent carer to my bundle of joy. I did find the obvious fact that I needed to dedicate all my time to this role very challenging for a long time. It demanded a bit more than just caring for any other child. In the end when my psychology had taken enough battering, I threw in the towel and embraced my new destiny. It was a role that I began to learn to love and enjoy. I poured my heart and soul into making everything right for my boy. I did my best to juggle his care with making our family work despite stresses. I even found some stability within the chaos. Sincerely there were times when I longed for the good old life. I even tried to venture back at different times but that too was logistically impossible. My boy was too special for any mainstream child minder to accept him for more than an hour. That’s how I saw it and as you can imagine no employer would have me for just an hour. I too could not bear the thought of putting him in danger by allowing any untrained person close to his complex health needs. In no time it was astadavista baby  to any job! As soon as he passed away I felt lost. Anyone would have thought that I would have smiled at the prospect of finally being able to go back to work. Well, that would have been the case if it was not death that had brought my previous role (as carer) to an end. Days turned into weeks, and still I did […]

So what’s next?

My fears… sometimes they lurk within the recesses of my mind. My fears… sometimes they sit silently and I feel they are gone My fears…. sometimes they whisper doubts into my ears. My fears… sometimes I ignore them in vain because they relocate behind my ear lobes and serenade my worries. My fears… sometimes events similar to the ones that caused them occur. My fears… sometimes they  jump out of the recesses of my mind. My fears… sometimes they pally up with new fears like new acquaintances do in a locked room. My fears… sometimes they wrestle me into a helpless battle to determine which fear to prioritise My fears… sometimes I succumb to them because I am exhausted. My fears… sometimes they make me cry because they make me do things that surprise me. My fears… sometimes, like now, I realise that they are an extension of me and my uncertainties. My fears… make me who I am. My fears… cannot be denied. My fears… are mine and not yours. My fears… sometimes they make me feel that everything is about me when it should be about you. My fears… sometimes they stop me from accepting that I am wrong. My fears… make you see me as I truly am…a human being. Thank you.

My Fears

Hello everyone. I gave a talk about blood transfusion in February 2017. It was a parents’ perspective on the whole process. It was an honour to be invited to present my views in a gathering of intellectuals. This is one of the talks closest to my heart. You see, coincidentally, after the talk on Thursday the 2nd of February 2017 at the Birmingham Metropole, Otito haemorrhaged and subsequently crashed on Sunday the 5th of February 2017. It was really weird for us as a family. He bled out because his pancreas failed. I have never seen so much blood being given to one little person in my entire life sincerely. It was surreal. There I was talking to this group of people about why blood transfusion was amazing, life saving and all without realising what was lurking in the corner.  He must have received nearly 20 bags of different types of blood products (without exaggerating) over the course of the 2 weeks that he spent in the intensive care. The fact that he still passed away in the end made it difficult for me to talk about the experience. Well, today, more than one year later, I feel really able to share with you my story about why blood transfusion is wonderful. I know there are very many varied opinions about if this should be done – especially from religious, traditional and cultural points of view. I acknowledge them but I must put forward my case in support of blood transfusion. Had it not existed, not only would I have missed out on sharing the life of my little warrior for as long as we did in the end but I would have lost him on that very Sunday that he haemorrhaged. I know it sounds silly and he never woke up anyway but you see, having the option of transfusing blood bought the doctors more time to try to save my son. It also gave me the opportunity to gradually come to terms with the possibility of a life without him. If I had not had those 2 weeks to read him his favourite stories, sing him his favourite songs, play his favourite music compilation to him, I would never have been able to accept his depature. Thanks to all the hardworking people who work tirelessly to make this process happen. Thanks to those who establish systems that make the process safe. You are all heroes and as a parent, I am extremely grateful. So please I hope that you enjoy the piece. At the end, I also added a link to the feedback and comments from the day. Enjoy! BLOOD TRANSFUSION TALK Paediatric and Neonatal Transfusion programme My near initiation as it were into being a blood transfusion recipient was actually a few years ago after a caesarean section. I remember being told that my blood count was very low and being prepared about the likelihood of getting one. My first feeling was that of horror. You see, I grew up in sub-Saharan Africa where anything blood related is viewed rather superstitiously. Blood represented life. Important traditional contracts or covenants are sealed in blood. Blood could not be mixed without care. During marriages blood lines were traced even up to four generations to prevent incest. Royalty, warriors and servants were identified through blood lines. Discussions around blood were not done lightly. Although a lot of civilisation has watered down many deep rooted traditional beliefs, myths and superstition, we still retain many fragments of the old African traditions and cultures. I felt that the blood discussion was best avoided. The thought of having my blood mixed with that of a total stranger was disturbing. Despite my education and knowledge, I had always been unable to see the need for it. I also had bad memories of seeing blood transfusions go badly and this fuelled my anxiety too. It was quite customary locally to blame subsequent infections or health complications arising post-transfusion on the “blood transfusion”. The mostly inadequate and weak health system could not provide any alternative answers and so locals demonised the whole blood transfusion process further fuelling the general aversion for blood transfusion. As there was absolutely no confidence in most of the systems responsible for blood transfusion, relatives became the culprits and producers of blood in areas where blood banks were empty. Sadly, this led to the discovery of blood related diseases in such kind volunteers further leading to a sense of grief and misconception about blood transfusion. The local adage “what you don’t know won’t kill you” fuelled this rumour. You can now imagine my horror at the mention of a blood transfusion. My thoughts were fixated on the lack of existence of any available relatives to provide blood for me. I would still not have wanted a stranger’s blood in my veins. Luckily, I escaped without needing a blood transfusion on that occasion because my blood count improved with medication. Well a few days later, the son for which I had the caesarean section (Otito) was diagnosed with an inherited metabolic condition called Propionic Acidaemia which compromises his body’s ability to breakdown proteins. As I was dealing with that news, I got a call from the “heel prick” people to say that my son also had the sickle cell gene. Well, without boring you with the details, somewhere along the line, there was talk about blood transfusion again only this time no amount of prayer, positivity or optimism could will it away. After a few months of life and having had several hospitalisations, he had to have a central venous line – a portacath. It improved his quality of life drastically however, the consequence of that was that his blood had to be discarded each time a blood sample was taken. He also became more prone to line infections leading to even more sampling. Together with his sickle cell trait, he became a frequent candidate for blood transfusion. In the last year he suffered […]

NHS Blood Transfusion Talk : A Parent’s perspective on Blood Transfusion

I opened Otito’s box this weekend. It is a box where I stored away the clothes, toys and personal effects he used in the weeks preceding his death. I suddenly realised that the batteries were still in the toys and had to go through the torture of rummaging the box to sort out his toys. The thought that I would have felt worse if the toys got ruined powered me through the prospect. I built myself up for it all week. I was very aware that seeing Otito’s stuff was always my greatest trigger. For this reason, I kept on putting off the simple task. On Sunday, without even thinking about it after church, I just went for it. On one hand, i think that feeling very uplifted after what had been a lovely church service gave me the boost that I needed. From one trouser to the next, I sorted through. After that I brought out one toy after the other. Initially, I avoided setting any of the buttons off to avoid hearing the sounds of what were once the soundtracks of our lives. In my usual clumsy way I dropped one of the toys on top of the heap and that set off the cacophony I was desperately avoiding. To my utmost surprise, the feelings I began to experience were anything but raw grief. I began to smile as one sound after the next took me back to my boy. To times when his little fingers set those same sounds off. Times long gone came flashing before my eyes. My grief was real but suddenly it felt kinder to me. It was not pulling at my heart but somehow, it felt like a dull ache. The sounds warmed my heart and I even found myself smiling through tears that seemed more like tears of joy at the time. In less than a few minutes, the familiar sounds cajoled the boys from the different parts of the house where they were otherwise busily lost in their own worlds. The sounds lured them and as Mark walked into the room followed by Karl, I began to struggle to switch off the toys. I wished that I was alone in the house as I would have loved to indulge myself. Mark began singing along and It became a bitter sweet moment for us all. There was a serenity within it all as Mark sang that I cannot really explain. We were all together yet lost deeply within our individual thoughts. We began smiling at one another and enjoying the toy sounds while selfishly holding on to our individual thoughts. “These are Otito’s toys mum. What are you doing?”, Mark asked me rather protectively. ” I am just taking the batteries out”, I said. So we spent the Sunday afternoon thinking about Otito. We also watched some videos from when Otito was a baby playing with Mark. It was just nice to see our boy again. I had forgotten how happy he used to be amidst all the pain. I am so grateful for all the lovely videos we ever made and still make. It is so funny how much we forget over time and how quickly grief and pain replace every joyful memory when they strike. It is such a blessing to be able to revisit some old but beautiful memories. Thank you for reading If you enjoyed this, you will find more articles like this here Photo credit: Pixabay

Death at my door (DAMD): Smiles

It was an absolute honour for me to be asked to share my views about parent caring during this Carers Rights Day 2016. The Local carers team did an amazing job setting this up and putting it all together. Many thanks to the Citizen newspaper for publishing the article. I hope that by creating more awareness, many parent carers will find the courage they need to confront all the uncertainties that lie ahead of them with their children more easily. The UK government tries to provide support through various agencies like the Carers UK,  Social services, Community paediatric teams, Community nurses, and doctors within or outside the hospital setting. In some areas hospice care is made available to families with severely disabled children to help provide some well deserved respite from care while ensuring that their children are still cared for in a safe enviroment. If carers do not come forward to access and the explore various support outlets, they just remain there unused. This defeats the purpose for which they were set up. This is why it is essential for Parent carers to access every possible help and support available. There is really no need no need to carry the burden of caring for a child alone. There is no need to habour fears about consequences of accessing well deserved support. Most of the fears will be reduced once parent carers begin to ask the right questions about what is available to ease the burden of care life throws at them with the existence of the illness of their child. There is a saying that a problem shared is halved. True, but I always like to think that this only holds if you share it with the right person. Getting support, asking questions and letting others help will be synonymous with sharing your problem with the right person. It is  truly the right of every carer to access this support. You are not being too demanding you are just being wise and proactive. That on its own deserves applause! I decided to share the article here To show my support for awareness being created on this Carers Rights day. Thank you as always for your support and readership. I know you do not realise it but every time you click, read and share my work you not only spread the word about what you have read but you support me on my own journey. It is strengthening that you find my work useful. Thank you. So sit back, relax and enjoy the interview…. Carers Rights Day takes place on the 25th of November, a national campaign which brings unpaid carers, support charities and local communities together to help carers understand their rights and the support they are entitled to. Carers MK supports over 4500 unpaid carers in Milton Keynes providing essential advice and information to those providing unpaid care to a relative or friend who due to illness, disability or frailty cannot manage without support. Case Study:  Parent Carer, Mrs Hope Carers UK support those providing care and support to a child who is ill, has a physical or learning disability or additional needs. Parent carers face huge uncertainties, stresses and challenges when faced with coping with their child’s condition, and it is important that they receive emotional support, advice and information to help them in their particular caring situation. Parent Carer Mrs Hope has a four year old son who has an inherited metabolic condition called Propionic Acidaemia. His body cannot break down proteins but builds toxins in his blood. He was diagnosed when he was just 3 days old after he went into Coma due to an overload of toxin called Ammonia. and in February 2016 was admitted to Great Ormond Street hospital with chronic pancreatitis. He cannot be fed by mouth but with specialist intravenous feeds called TPN into a big vein in his heart. Mrs Hope is now juggling visits to Great Ormond Street while also looking after her 5yr old son Mark. She and her husband take turns in shuttling between their local hospital  and London to care for the boys. It is extremely strenuous on the whole family, emotionally, physically and psychologically.   Q  &  A   What are the biggest challenges you face as a parent carer? My biggest challenge has been accepting that my 4yr old son will not be perfect in every way a child should be. It was very devastating when he was diagnosed. Initially I felt overwhelmed with guilt because I learnt that the condition was an inherited one. Simply meaning that it came to be as a result of mine and my husband’s matching but defective genes. The realisation that his condition was incurable and degenerative fuelled my sadness for him. It was also hard to make his 5yr old brother understand that his younger brother was different. My 4 year old also suffers from severe autism (as a result of the Propionic Acidaemia). This meant that the 5 yr old brother initially struggled, believing the 4yr old deliberately chose not want to play with him. Our acceptance of the whole condition early meant we were able to reach out for help and support for our family.       How do you manage caring for your son in hospital while looking after other members of your family? I have managed considerably well since I began letting everyone in where safely possible. With a son as delicate as my 4 yr old, I initially felt I needed to do everything for him myself to get things done properly. Unfortunately, I struggled that way. I learnt to share the responsibility for him with the nurses at my local hospital or GOSH London (depending on where he was admitted). This freed up time for me to go home at least once a week to be a mum to my other son- to do the school run, take him to the park or just cuddle him. I have fed off this bit of normalcy. […]

Interview with the Local media

Lots of students are hit with the harsh reality that university education unlike any other entails a lot of writing. What I prefer to see as “feedback”. It can be seen as something (data) that serves to inform future steps. (Glick M 2011). It happens when a person is allowed to give an opinion about how an activity or interaction has gone. It can be a good or bad opinion. It is usually delivered to someone else or maybe the organiser or other people involved in the activity or interaction. It is not enough to read many books as a student. There is also the need to relay what one has read to evidence understanding in such a way that can only be arrived at by critically analysing all that has been read. There was a report carried out in the US in 1990 by the Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCAN). In this report it was determined that upon graduation, students should have acquired skills in literacy, computer usage data analysis and evaluation. In a nutshell, they should have information gathering skills to take into their lives. (Department of Labour 1992). The problem with getting information as a student is knowing what information to get or if what has been gathered will be relevant. The risk is usually in using only a small set of resources irrespective of the problem at hand. This poses the need to acquire this information literacy by learning to find a link between the use of the librarian, faculty and information technology resources available to meet the requirements of the problem at hand. (Weiner 2010). Interestingly, becoming informational literate helps improve our overall awareness as students. It cannot be acquired without sharpening very many aspects including our writing, analytical and listening skills. In the process we learn how to summarise what we have read from various sources into a few words. These become the feedback that we present in the form of assignments, essays and exams. Our writing is also show that we not only understand overall learning outcomes for the course but are able to apply our knowledge specifically to help solve the problems presented by the assignment, essay or exam. It also provides the opportunity for our hard work to be graded. This ultimately ascribes value to our degrees once attained. Information gathering is a cumbersome task. We need to have a fair understanding of what the question is because it is the basis for the whole exercise. It guides the search. Planning the search for the information needed to answer the question require time, patience and strategy. When information is found, questions regarding the suitability of the source of information become necessary. The helps to give the final product derived from the information some credibility and integrity. It is important to know more of the work and why. It is also important to know when the article was written to determine their relevance to the question being answered. In addition, the student has to find ways to put down what has been learnt. Where a quote is used, the marks to determine their start and end should clearly be applied. Techniques like paraphrasing, summarising and mind mapping can be used to sieve out relevant information regarding the question that the essay is required to answer.(UNPAC 2017). Only after all this has been properly done understood then begin to validly engage in a full analysis of the information that has been gathered. It may also include disturbance thoughts, doubts and in-depth analysis. This is the evidence of understanding that academic writing presents. In the end, the learning provider creates a fair system for submission. This allows the work done by students to be checked for similarities. The aim is to reduce copying, cheating and plagiarism. It also encourages students to use references and citations where multiple sources are used. (UNPAC 2017) Personally I feel very daunted by this concept of academic writing. It has now dawned on me that knowing how to write is only one piece of the academic writing jigsaw puzzle. Citation and referencing are certainly good skills to take on board. They would help a person separate facts from their  personal opinions as they write. Improving on communication skills to aid interaction with others helps to check and share ideas. This an article was about writing awareness and the requirements for attaining an academic level of writing. It looked at the importance of researching widely during academic writing tasks. It emphasised on the seriousness of the exercise and showed that there was no room for students to droll over the idea of using appropriate citation and referencing in their work. More importantly it focused on the need for appropriate citation and referencing to give credit to sources used.   Thank you for reading as always. There are many other posts like these. Do you know you might like them? Click here Photo credit : Pixabay   REFERENCES Department of Labour (1992) Secretary’s commission on achieving necessary skills. http://wdr.doleta.gov/SCANS/ Accessed 6 Aug 2013 Margaret Glick (2011) The Instructional Leader and the Brain: Using Neuroscience to inform practice. Corwin press pp113 Chapter 5 Weiner S L (2010) Information literacy: in neglected core competency. Educaus 33(1) Google scholar. UNPAC (2017) Northampton  

What’s all the fuss about academic writing?

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Letting people we love make their own mistakes is an art that I feel we all need to master. For those of us who give ourselves entirely when we care, we can sometimes unintentionally burden people with the level of care and affection that we shower them. It’s hard for them to understand why we just never back off but we only “nag” them because we care. Well I don’t feel that I nag but that’s they word that gets thrown left, right and centre when you keep on warning about the impending disaster. How many times have I seen someone I love ten steps away from a move that will lead to disaster and panicked? Countless times. I have expressed my panic and received sticks in return. Leave me alone … I know what I am doing … It’s my life, my rules, my mistakes!   These become the broken record they play to my listening ears. Yet when the disaster strikes the record changes to Don’t say I told you so or why did you not stop me! Should I have pushed harder despite their express declination or was I right to respect their feelings and let them do things their way? It’s such a hard balance but veering towards the latter means that you allow peace reign. You also show them respect and love by stepping back. This in turn gives them the chance to discover things by themselves. This reminds me of an African saying. I shall just translate it … Don’t tell the child to stay away from flames because when they feel the heat or get burnt from it as a result of their curiosity, they will never play close to the table where the lamp sits. Many people learn better from their mistakes and experiences while others like to add other people’s experiences to their learning pool. No matter how much you scream or honk at them, it feels like they chose to ignore the advice because it came from you. Being a familiar person tends to make you get taken for granted after all they say a prophet is hardly known in his hometown. What better age to live in than now when opinions abound. The internet is filled with chat rooms and fora of all sorts with people sharing and sometimes exaggerating their experiences for full effect. Many are also surrounded with family and friends who volunteer unsolicited advice. While that can be a pain, it can also be a treasure if you have the right level of discernment to help you sieve the chaff from the grain. Trust me discernment is a skill you acquire over time! I have just escaped an interaction with a loved one on the verge of making what I think to be a costly mistake but their mind is made up on their preferred course of action. As usual, I have to swallow the bitter pill of respecting their decisions and taking the difficult step back. It takes a lot of courage to let sleeping dogs lie. So tell me, have you found yourself in this situation before? What did you do about it? Thanks for reading. Photo credit: Pixabay There are many other posts like these. Do you know you might like them? Click here

Shhh…Stop telling me what to do!

Do you know what I did for a few weeks during my son’s hospitalisation? I went home! Having been hospitalised for 5 months at the time without any hope of  discharge, I had to swallow the bitter pill of detachment. I began the transition a few weeks earlier by letting the nurses assist with some of the tasks that I alone performed for him. He did not take to them at first but he soon relaxed when he realised that I was not budging. It proved that bath time could still be fun even when anchored by someone else. I knew deep down that I needed a break. I had to spend some time with the rest of my family too. While at home, I kept wondering how my child was in the hospital. I must have called a million times on my first day away from him and each time, I got told that he was fine. At times when it was impossible to get through to the hospital,  I felt emotionally and psychologically helpless. While at home, I was floating about, not able to actually enjoy my supposed break or even relax.This was my story for the past few days. What kept me going was family. The warmth of being around them. I went on to spend time with them and even allowed myself enjoy that time out. I was happy. We had laughter and of course the odd disagreements. It was fun fun fun! At the end of my break, the time came for me to return back to my duty post beside my sick child in the hospital and did I crumble inside? Of course I did. Don’t get the wrong idea, I love being with my child here in the hospital during his long admissions. On this occasion however,  I think I got too cosy at home and remembered the comfort of lying in my bed and just being at home. It hurt! You see, when you have a sick child and find yourself hospitalised for a long time, initially you struggle to adapt to being restricted to the hospital. However soon enough you adjust and become completely used to the routine. You become hospitaley. It works well for you when you are the parent in the hospital. You adapt to the monotony and sluggishness of time. You start making new connections with staff (to guarantee the consistency of care your child receives) and other parents (to maintain your sanity and give you a break from your thoughts, endless games of candy crush or just boredom!). Going back and forth from home to hospital can sometimes be inevitable especially when you have other children to look after. However it doesn’t make it easier for you as the carer – just wrecks havoc to your otherwise perfect adaptation strategy.  Silly right? It is quite normal to nurse many hospital frustrations and crave home. You may even find that you keep these feelings secret because they sometimes leave you upset with yourself for being selfish. The good news is that you are not alone in experiencing these feelings. Now listen to this there’s more! When you get discharged home with your child, you may find that you walk right into another set of emotions. Every time your child as much as coughs especially in the first few days post discharge, you may see that you begin to feel very terrified by the thought that your child will end up back in hospital. This feeling may petrify you (if you are already cosying up to being at home), or annoy you (if you begin to wonder why your child cannot just be stable? Surely that’s not too much to ask!). As you begin to adapt to home life, the stress starts again to build up with endless things to do and no time to rest! The key to surviving all these emotions that we beset us as parent carers is to stay calm and accept that the ill health of our children are way beyond our control. There is no need letting it make us too sad because it will not really change anything. Some parents have expressed feelings of resentment towards the sickness plaguing their children and this too is quite normal as long as we do not dwell on those thoughts for too long. So you think it, you discard it so that you can move on to the next thing which is survival. All these feelings do not make us as carers wicked or bad. They make us human, tired and most times, exhausted. What we all need from time to time is rest . We get offered help as carers from family, friends, community health teams, social workers and so on. What we have to learn to do is to take as much help as is being offered to us by way of support. Sometimes, we turn down help because help can be feel intrusive even though this is hardly the intention when it is offered. Accepting help can make us worry about our homes being turned into hospitals with healthcare practitioners streaming in and out. I worry about that too. However ,in my experience, it is best not to turn down well meaning help so that when things get too stressful for us, we can always be guaranteed of some respite. This is because, such help although annoying may be the only opportunity for us to relax sometimes as carers. I will tell you some of the reasons why you cannot really go wrong accepting help and support It helps your child learn to allow others help: Reaching out for help and accepting help when it is offered are the elements that can help you survive your journey as a parent carer. The saying that no man is an island becomes even more apparent when you care for a sick child. When you nurse your child, you know how delicate they can be emotionally. Many carers know how difficult it is for sick children to adjust to […]

Hospital life : Why you need help and support.

It had been a crazy couple of weeks for me. I had thought that through it all, I would have found time for myself ! Well sadly, I did  not. I had very tight schedules with many crazy deadlines to meet. I also had early mornings, late nights and everything in between. What I needed was some me-time but that was impossible to get. I used to be able to steal this me-time within the chaotic days but not these past few weeks. I could neither consistently put down as much as a scribble on paper nor could I even go for a walk. It was absolutely chaotic and left me feeling very messed me up! I always feel that we have it in us as humans find deeper sense in our lives by engaging our hands and feet. I know that it sounds silly but somehow by engaging these two parts of our anatomy to varying degrees and at different times, we secure some time within the nearly impossible schedules we have as parent carers to be by ourselves and therein lies the hope of some sanity for us. The more we are able to steal this me time, the more possible it will be for us to create more order and gain more control over the rest of our day and hopefully our lives. With our hands, we write, colour, sew, do the washing and so on. With our feet, we simply walk (notice that I did not say run because that may be stretching it too far for already exhausted carers like us!). Those of us  who can perform these two activities nee to pause now because there lies one thing to feel very thankful and fortunate for. Do you know why I begged you to pause? Well, It’s because if you are a parent carer like me, you will know that within our chaotic lives, it can be nearly impossible to ever find something to feel fortunate about. It is during these seemingly mundane activities that I find for example that it is possible for me to steal some of this me-time.  That alone time can be 5 mins or less. It just allows you organise your thoughts, make plans  or simply stay quiet. This me time does not necessarily mean that you have to be physically alone to enjoy it, you can still grab it even during activities by shutting everything out and relaxing your self even for as few as a few minutes at a time. Such peace and serenity can be all you need in several bursts throughout your day to restore some calmness and orderliness to different parts of your upsey, downsey or what I like to see as the yo-yo emotions that sits within most of us carers. So for example, a typical day in a carer’s life may start with needing to do administer medicines and give the child a wash. As a carer, you can practice some relaxation by taking deep breathes as you perform these simple activities. Time is one thing that is precious and never in abundance especially where carers’ needs are concerned. It is the most sought after companion that is never accommodating to us. So one helpful way to create time for us amidst our busy lives is learning to make that time within the activities we perform. Learning to take deep breathes even as we perform all our activities can drastically improve our well being. Here are some tips that I practice and find useful: Multi-tasking is good but the downside is that it can leave you stressed. Break down all the tasks for the day into segments before working through them. Reduce your self exertion by performing and completing the task(s) only a few at a time. Remember to breathe and focus your thoughts on each task(s) you perform. This makes you perform them better with more focus and stops your mind from being overwhelmed by everything outside the task at hand. You can sit still in time clusters. So throughout the day, you can sit for 3 mins in every 1-2 hrs just catching your breathe. When you start to get worried and stressed, writing your thoughts in a book can help declutter your mind. In the end, what you may find is a more relaxed you amidst your day. There are many other ways that parents find to cope through the stress of caring for their children. As long as the method is safe and the end result is some level of calmness and stress relief to that parent, then fire away! Every parent will find their own way in the end. No one has any formula but hopefully hearing about different strategies adopted by different parents will help you formulate your perfect method. Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed reading this, you may also enjoy some other topics we have discussed in this series. Photo credit: Pixabay    

Hospital Life – The Parent caring “Yo-Yo” effect

Have you ever wondered what it must be like for a parent to be told that their child has an illness from which they cannot recover? That the child may live but have a very low quality of life? That the prognosis is so dire that their life span cannot even be guaranteed? I never had to ever have these thoughts before I had my sick child. It was a random portion of misfortune that had been apportioned to me by nature. Suddenly the lottery of birth had dealt me this very devastating blow. There are many like me who now have to live with the problems associated with this type of news about their children. There are so many aspects to becoming a parent of a sick child that I daresay, not even a single book on the subject will cover.  In fact looking back now, the things I thought were problems were actually not problems and its funny also how my definition of worry has changed with time. On a daily basis many parents in my new world have to deal with these sorts of information. I pray that you never have to because when hit with these possibilities and probabilities, your life changes forever. Some of us have been living on the edge not really knowing from one day to the next what the future holds for our children. What their quality of life will be and how they would cope with their disabilities long term. Some of us even add the worries about our own life expectancies to it. Oh! What if I die? What will become of my child? Who will look after him/her? STOP!!! I will stop you there please. The brain is not made to cope with information overload. So how then can it deal with question over load? That line of questioning only leads to despair.  There are too many unknowns to deal with. Even in mathematics, equations are used to get values or answers for unknown variables. As the unknowns increase, we need more equations to help substitute and solve them. Also, as unknowns increase we just generally stop and give up on any hope of a solution. Life is filled with unknowns. Sometimes we just need to breathe because there is also something beautiful that life is also filled with…Hope! I will give you an example. Who knew some 20-30 years ago that there will be such medical advancements and prowess as there are today? In the past a diagnosis of diabetes or HIV would have been a life sentence. However, fast forward 20-30years later, today, that is no longer the case. There are better outcomes, management plans and treatment options for those patients. In the past, amputees did not get the care and support that are now readily available to many of them. So many have now gone on to become olympians and actively enjoy their lives to the fullest. So there is still hope. Some rare conditions are being researched into daily leaving tomorrow pregnant with hope for better outcomes. The effects of particular illnesses can also vary from patient to patient. This means that there are very different outcomes for different patients even with the same illness. Even amongst the healthy still lie life’s uncertainties. Who said that healthy people do not die in different ways? We will all get to answer the clarion call somehow.  That is also part of the unpredictability of life which we have no control over. What we can control however, is how we choose to live our lives. We can choose to be happy by spending as much quality time as we can with our children- healthy or sick. We can make every living moment count. Worrying too much about death and the impending end of our sick children can rob us of all ability to enjoy life with them. These different situations we find ourselves in, make us stronger people, better people. Only if we allow ourselves power through our challenges. There is so much strength deposited in everyone. They only become available to us on a need-to-use basis. Many parent carers are gurus at multitasking and joggling. Most of them are very resilient. The sad thing is that because they are so busy getting on with their challenges that they never notice how strong they are. The act of caring for your sick child means that you learn to be a more patient person. Can you count how many hours you have sat staring into space waiting for a blood test, or a result, or an operation or just waiting for your child to get better. Did you ever imagine that you had it in you to sit still? Sometimes you find yourself praying for days and weeks for your child to feel better. You find that you possess some form of faith or strong will (which you never realised that you possessed) to help you stay focussed through a stormy bout of deterioration. Did you ever know that you could be as prudent as you have become with your finances? You suddenly find  that you are able to find ways to make your finances stretch through your demanding circumstance. So although problems differ, they all have stress, frustration and uncertainty in common. We can however, control how we allow those problems affect us by adopting a different approach to them. So look inside of you and draw from the strength that lies within. Do not focus on the problem at hand but on the hope that it will get better. Keep taking baby steps in the night directions. Stop over thinking about the future, it is so unpredictable that it seems a waste to allow it weigh us down. Take it one day at a time. One hour at a time and one moment at a time. Deal with each step that lies before you. After then ask yourself what the next step is. Deal with that and then […]

Hospital life – One step at a time.

Being a parent carer is really not all doom and gloom. It’s hard to be yourself because most times you put yourself last on the scale. However, as carers, we need to take care of ourselves. Our health, our backs and even our emotions. Constantly ignoring that symptom you have because of the attention your child or loved one needs will do no good in the long run. It’s a good idea to always bear in mind that as soon as you become unwell (especially after ignoring niggling symptoms) everything breaks down. You begin to worry about who will stand in for you when you are ill. We all know that worry. It is made ten times worse if you are anything like me. I get caught up in the thought that no one can look after my child as well as I would. This may be true but when you are unwell, it is what it is- you will have to let others step in whether you like it or not. They may not necessarily do as good a job as you can be but they will definitely give it their best shot. Adopt proper posture when performing daily tasks : For some of us, our caring role means we are either constantly lifting or  bending. It is a good idea to adopt proper lifting and bending techniques on time. You really do not want any wrong postures that will leave you in pain over time. It’s quite easy to take bad postures for granted but bear in mind that caring for your loved one may be long term. Make sure your vaccinations are up to date : In the colder months the flu vaccination is a good idea especially if you normally have one. Do not forget to check with your doctor before having the flu jab in order to ensure that it will be right for you. If your child or loved one is very prone to the flu, they may be offered the flu vaccination anyway. The vaccination you get will just stop you having the flu and reduce the risk of exposing your child or loved one. Get some fresh air : Emotionally, carers are at risk of becoming lonely and depressed. It will be a good idea to try to get some exercise as often as possible. The fresh air never does anyone any harm. For those who are unable to enjoy the outdoors for various reasons, even sitting out in the garden or by the window may make a difference. Just watching as much nature as you can through the window, strolling in the meadow etc can uplift a carer’s mood. Stay connected with help and support : In addition, there are support groups for carers in England. The carers UK, or a local branch of carers can provide listening  support and sometimes advice on days when you struggle. For those abroad, similar support may be available. Where unavailable, all hope is not lost, friends and family are always invaluable. Providing support to those who struggle. It always helps when we can talk about our feelings. Remember, that’s child or loved one will want you to look after yourself better if they knew how much you were struggling. It will ultimately impact them adversely in the end. It is a good idea to seek help when you struggle. It does not make you weak, it only means you are strong and working hard at keeping strong. There are lots of things to support parents in the community. Parents who have kids with disability especially can have access to some benefits for them and their kids. When my child was diagnosed, it took me a long time to come to terms with the full implications of the illness for him and for us all as a family. The last thing on my mind was seeking any help. There were too many things to get used to. However, a lot of the stress would have been halved if we sought had sought help sooner. In the UK, it is worth speaking with the citizens advice bureau on time to advise on what is help would be suitable. This is because different families have different needs. However, I found that the government website also provides information. Disability living allowance is made available to children with disabilities. The level of care required for the child is used to determine how much would be awarded. There are two categories: mobility and care elements. Some children can be awarded both or either of the elements in the disability allowance. At times children can still be awarded even without clear diagnosis. The main criteria used are the level of care or mobility needs for the child in relation to children his or her age. The main carer for the child can be the parents, foster parents or any other person. If that person spends over 35 hours a week caring for the child, he or she can also claim a carers allowance. There are rules to be adhered to while claiming the carer’s allowance. It is taxable benefit meaning that it counts towards your personal allowance in every tax year. There are limits to additional earnings per week and it is worth checking before embarking on any extra employment. There is also a restriction on the number of hours the carer can be in education. Part-time education not exceeding certain hours a week are allowed. Some families may struggle with caring for their child and it may genuinely impact on the families ability to work and earn enough money to meet their living costs. Families can apply for income support and child or working tax credits. There are different criteria used to award these and it is worth calling them for advice early enough. When the income is low or the  family claims income support, it is also worth checking if you are eligible for housing benefits.The Turn2us website contains  an online calculator that parents can use […]

Hospital life – Taking care of yourself as a parent carer (Physically and Financially)

Children start to get frustrated , the longer their healths deteriorate. They act out these frustrations in so many different ways. Unfortunately their nearest and dearest are left on the receiving end of these feelings. Its hard to empathise with a person living with ill health. No matter how much love, attention and affection you have to dish out, it does not stop the child having the monopoly as regards the ugly effects of the sickness. I remember when I was pregnant and completely sick. I remember thinking that it was the worst feeling ever. Constant tiredness, sickness, vomiting, constipation, nausea and my mouth tasting like tar became my daily ordeal. Not that I had ever tasted tar but I imagined it tasted like it, smelt and looked like it! I had my loved ones waiting on me hand and foot as I lay immobile on the “bed rest” prescribed by the doctor. No matter how much they cared, I still felt sick. Too horrible to even speak. In fact sometimes I felt like screaming for them to leave me alone. I had the common sense not to because I could not even walk to the bathroom without help. I envied their wellness. I wanted to eat but I couldn’t. I wanted to sleep but the baby turned on my belly into a champions league field. But I understood what my sickness was. I understood the time range. I even understood that I was pregnant afterall  I was an adult with common sense. Sadly, even that did not diminish my frustration. So, although pregnancy is nothing compared to the ill health that children experience, imagine how it must be for a child. Children are supposed to be free, to play, scream, run around and just be children. Illness does all the things to the child that limits their ability to be children in the way they are meant to be. Sometimes they become restricted, stay for long periods in hospital, it keeps them in pain or constantly nauseated and feeling sick. It  limits their breathing, speech and the list is endless. For some kids, they have one or a few symptoms, for others, they have a combination of symptoms varying in duration and severity. Imagine how frustrating and annoying it must feel that your body just lets you down constantly. Imagine how frustrated they must feel when without any intention we imply that they should get on with it and be used to these feeling? No one can get used to being sick not even a child. For children with siblings, they are left confused about why they are the ones with the illness. They wonder why their symptoms do not reduce or why they cannot be cured, saved or rescued from whatever condition it is that they have. All these feelings may not be easily expressed by the child. Here are some common reasons : Sometimes children do not even realise why they feel frustrated leading to anger, resentment, hostility. Some children feel demoralised as a result of their constantly ill health and experience a total loss of interest or zest for life. Some children get too worried about worrying their parents and tend to bottle up their feelings leading to even more frustrations.. You see, your child loves you and as their health deteriorates do not only see your efforts, they feel your pain for their situation. They worry about you unknown to you and this worry can become a barrier becoming a stumbling block leading to an inability to let you in regarding their feelings. Some children’s feelings get messed up by the effects of several medications in their blood stream. This may impair or aggravate their feelings. Some children begin to get muddled up emotionally as their healths deteriorate because of the neurological effects of some health conditions in children. Sometimes, unknown to us, kids see our fragility especially at times we think we try the most to hide our feelings from them. I always feel sometimes that they know more than they are letting on but with good reason. Unfortunately and unknown to the child, one thing that always erupt to the surface are unresolved feelings of pain, frustration, anger and so on. When these feelings erupt, parents, carers, or even Health care professionals (HCPs) can become the targets. For children well enough to still attend school we may stretch the list to include their classmates and teachers. While we cannot really blame them for lashing out, we cannot also accommodate inappropriate behaviour especially when these outbursts becomes regular and unsafe. It becomes our duty to help them as best as we can. It is a difficult but not an impossible task. Here are some tips Listen – Providing a listening ear to a sick child can be the one thing that will stop things deteriorating. By listening, you are able to detect the reason(s) for their sadness and frustrations. Knowing these may help you address them. Listening provides an opportunity for a you to reassure your child, calm their fears and refocus their thoughts. It is true that their illness may be incurable, life-threatening, life limiting thereby making them very delicate amongst other things. However, by listening you can give them the opportunity to half their problems. As a problem shared is halved. Expressing themselves can relieve the burden of bottling things up. This outcome although halfway to the intended outcome of resolving their feelings is better than no outcome at all. Do not take things personal – Do not blame yourself for the attitude of your child. Try not to think in the first instance that the child is deliberately attacking you as a parent. Most of the things children say to their parents when they are unwell do not necessarily reflect on your parenting skills. Remember that  as much as you love your child, the illness is theirs. This in itself fuels the frustration which they may channel unfairly at you. Realising this fact can […]

Hospital Life – How listening to a sick child can help

Immersion… An interesting word for today right? Well, It has not come about by accident. That’s just in case you were wondering. It was a word that came about through feedback. A person was described as one who got thoroughly immersed in any activity they performed. It was a compliment actually. I always like to think that once in a while it is interesting to get feedback about how we come across to others. This was definitely an exciting one. Until that point in the discussion, I would have never ever thought of describing the person in question as one who enjoyed being immersed in any activity. I was wrong because right now, the more I think about it, the more I find it to be an extremely suitable description. So let’s turn to Merriam Webster my trusted side kick when it comes to defining terms. She offered me many definitions but the one that I thought was most suitable for the purpose of this discussion was the third definition. Here it comes… ….absorbing involvement…. I like that. For one to be described as having a tendency to be totally absorbed and involved in an activity must be a good thing. Right? Personally, I like not only to do things but to experience them. To do something feels more external than experiencing it in my opinion. I like to watch how things make me feel when I do them. I like to be aware of how I form my opinion about the things I do based on how they make me feel as I do them. I also like to compare my feelings over time … how am I feeling about this now compared to how I felt previously? I can hardly participate in things without deploying all my senses. This creates a lot of internal dialogue which can sometimes be distracting. Feel things from the heart don’t just be a partaker … That’s like an unspoken motto of mine. But that also comes with its baggage. You see not all activities we perform make us feel anything to start with. Especially when they are in their infancy- when we first start to do them. When we are still learning to do them, it can be difficult to feel excited about them. It’s easy to think that someone possesses a mighty  dose of absorbing involvement in an activity when they are enjoying what they are doing. This can lead to the assumption that this feeling occurs with every activity they participate in. It can even make us feel that we do not possess as much potential for being completely absorbed in the activities that we ourselves are involved in. Well, not so my friend, not so…. That absorbing involvement you witness in others is expressed mostly when people perform enjoyable activities. There are many things that can distract us from experiencing the same level of absorbing involvement that we admire in others. I like to think of them as internal and external distractions. Let’s start with the internal distraction. Do you remember how I told you earlier about how I need to experience and not just do things?  Well, that’s a classic example of a potential recipe for distraction that originates from within. I cannot count how many activities I have been robbed of because I have been too impatient to allow myself hop over the learning hurdle and into the enjoyment phase. The need to immediately enjoy and feel can be a distraction from the whole process and objective of simply participating in many activities. In fact funny enough, many of the activities I am currently admired for were those that I learnt when I was very young. I have no real recollection of what the learning phase was like or the resistance I may have put up. I was very young when I acquired those skills and what’s more the responsibility for making sure I mastered them was not mine. My parents and teachers would take full credit for those. Writing, sewing, tidying up, playing an instrument, saying my prayers, reading my bible etc. With those skills, I hear people say I have super immersive tendencies. Now that I am solely responsible for acquiring new skills to help me participate in new activities, I must confess to you that I have found myself as shamefully wanting as any one else. I cannot even learn to play the Wii with my son because I lack the patience to learn what all those buttons are for on the controller. Worse still, the functionalities keep changing with the games and I simply cannot keep up. What happened to just colouring or painting things? So you may see me doing things like that diligently and looking totally absorbed in those but don’t be fooled. I don’t enjoy or feel anything when I play the games because I cannot get myself to be patient enough to learn them. As a result, I safely stick with familiar patterns. In order to reach a point of immersion in the activities we perform, we need to find ways to remove distractions and create a focusing environment in which the so- called activities we get involved in can thrive.Not many of us are able to kill all the noise and things that tend to push and pull us as we perform various activities. This leads to an inability to be absorbed or completely involved in them. In the end, we end up avoiding or even neglecting them. This brings us nicely into the external reason for distraction which is mainly peer pressure. This distraction originates not just as a result of an internal distaste, lack of enjoyment or feeling for the activities we perform but from people whose feelings we put before ours. In trying to please them, we compromise on our personal desires regarding the activities in question. The need to yield to these external peer pressures also fuel the need for conformity. This means that many activities we will ordinarily participate in, enjoy and […]

Word of the day – Immersion

If you have been sailing through life and never failed at anything, it is difficult to appreciate the gift that failure can bring to your soul. I feel so sad. Failing again and again has bashed my self esteem. it has made me question myself. Am I really good enough? Perhaps I have been very lucky up till this point and escaped with many near misses that I have not noticed, how narrow my escapes have been. That is pretty much how I feel right now. I am so angry with myself. The more success has continued to elude me, the more frustrated I have become. I have tried everything within my power to succeed and it just feels like the more I try, the more I tumble down the slippery slope. I partook in a test that depended on how someone else other than me judged my actions. If they judged them as safe, I passed but if they determined my actions to be dangerous, however innocuous my intentions, then I failed. Every time a tentative feedback was given, I felt judged even though it was sometimes corrective.  By the time the judgement was finally passed,  I felt like an extra switch had been put off and my confidence nose- dived…dimmed one switch at a time. Why could I not see that all I had were just a litany of miscalculations? I just could not understand how I could have been so daft. It’s interesting how we view ourselves compared to how we are viewed. Sometimes, we allow ourselves trust the judgement of people around us (especially if they are external and not prejudiced) and rightly so. However, it does not stop it being very heartbreaking to sit and listen to them talk about how we actually come across. While we mustn’t spend time worrying about how others view us, we cannot totally ignore them. As they say, everyone cannot be wrong at the same time. Failure was an alien term to me until I joined the bandwagon. I really could neither relate with nor excuse it. It simply did not exist. It was a stamp for weakness. But recently having suddenly tasted the pill of failure despite the heavy doses of hard work and optimism I had mustered, I began to appreciate failure. I began to see how the elusiveness of the target could either be a propeller or dissuader. I began to appreciate how failure could secure success or destroy egos. I had no idea that I was such a bad loser until I began to experience failure. I had enjoyed so many victories, I did not know how to fail. Failure really sucks trust me but the truth is that as long as we are trapped in our humanity, it is a phenomenon that is sometimes inevitable. Survival of the fittest!  You are not the only one on a mission to succeed so sometimes others will have their own turn…Let them shine after all when you were a winner, they too watched you take your turn on the pedestal of success. So in order to experience the lessons hidden in failure, we need to learn how to fail. Failure helps us realise that we are human and as such we can never be perfect always. It helps us pay more attention to the things we will normally overlook. It not only makes us aware that what we are trying is not working but pushes us to find new ways that can work. Failing is not really losing, It is in reality a postponed victory. Losing is when you stop trying to find a way to win. Every one will get their own turn only if they keep trying. One thing failure does best is make the victory even sweeter when it finally arrives. Failure provides an opportunity to learn more accurately as we strive to aim higher in our attempt secure success. Failure allows us go through a process by providing us with experiences that strengthen our awareness of success. In order to achieve this, failure helps us listen more closely to the wisdom in the hidden lessons that we can build on as we edge closer to victory. The journey to success that is stretched longer by failure is  the journey that sculpts and fashions  us into tougher beings as we strive and never give up. The one who attains immediate victory knows only the way that works while the one who fails severally before experiencing victory knows not only the way that works but is also the most certain about the ways that don’t work. This knowledge secures the victory once attained because there will be no reason to drift away from the path of success. If we can be kinder to ourselves when we fail, we will be less scarred by failure. Failure is nature’s way of telling us that we are not ready. Failure does not mean that you are not good enough, it just means that you have not yet found the way. Look at it this way, even if you have the best car in the world, you cannot drive from point A to B if you do not know the way that leads from A to B. Even if that car is a Bugatti, the man on a bicycle who has the map or knowledge about how to get from point A to B will get there before you. This does notmake his means of transportation better than yours. Therefore, when we fail, let us stop taking failure personal. Let us start asking the right questions about why we are failing or what we need to get us to where we need to be. Let us go back to the basics if we have to. We must keep trying until we find a way that works. In the end we will be rewarded not only with the victory we seek but with information about so many other ways that may equip is in other endeavours. […]

The power of failure- Why a bit of failure can be a good thing.

Seriously…. How many children do I have? Well, in reality and to most ordinary parents, this would be their most savoured question. It is like the one they expect and hope to be asked as soon as their parental status comes to light. It may go in the lines of …so how many children do you have?… It will be the opportunity for most parents to go on about the number of children and possibly how cute they are, how old they are, what they are up to. Some might even add a moan or two about how “stressful” parenting is…. Well, blady, blah blah. For me, that question is the one I dread as a parent. The question is like a needle that stings my heart leading to an eruption of extremely distressing emotions. Sound strange? Well, welcome to my world. I used to have very many children and now for some reason, I am left with just one. One lonely child who is now not only left with me, but left alone without a sibling. What a wicked world! Sadly, they all died. My child is only 7 and she has been through the works with me. Well, before you turn on the pity, I just want you to know that I do not actually intend shedding any more light about my situation. Please don’t give me that look…don’t I know it? Well, worse things happen so get over it! Anyway, the reason that question creates a huge emotional sting for me is because when it pops up harmlessly, it leaves me clueless as to how to approach the answer fairly. Technically, I have 2 possible answers I can say I have just one child. But you see, the question is ambiguous if you ask me. How many children, triggers numbers in my head. I had numbers to present to this quiz master but now I have just one child left. To be fair “do you have?” specifically refers to the present tense. You know, like the current state of affairs…which would be 1! This brings me nicely into my second possible answer. I  can say I have one “left”. This also satisfies the answer in the context of the present. However, it also creates an awareness of a change in status quo. “Left” kind of brings the existence of some other persons who were but who now are not here into the knowledge of the quiz master. It’s like dragging them into a party where they are really no longer welcome. At least not to the living who are always inconvenienced by this knowledge. Yes, I insist that creating this awareness is always an unintended inconvenience posed by my response which the hearer has to deal with. Apologies begin to spring up by the askers who suddenly wish they did not ask. Or worse still, who start to worry that by leading me to this response, I will suddenly become so upset that I need one thousand apologies to feel better. No, the apologies do not make me feel better. They only scratch the elephant that enters the room with claws of pity. I won’t break just because I make you aware of my status. Remember I provided the answer even though you asked. So there you go, I have spilled the beans. It’s ok to feel troubled by my answer. To worry about how I might feel afterwards but please don’t fixate. Don’t let it take over the rest of the conversation. Don’t let it make the mood sour. The reason I chose to give this answer has nothing to do with you. It has instead to do with my angels. I just feel like it will be so unfair to give an answer that does not acknowledge their existence in this world however fleeting. It is also not fair on me. It psychologically and emotionally takes a lot from a man to be in this position… to move from being the “one time father” of many nations and to becoming the father of one clan. So that answer gives me a sense of pride too. Its not easy to be me. To cope with as much losses as I have had to. It’s my only chance to show off my strength as a person. Yeah yeah…it sounds lame. Well, it’s not my fault that I no longer have victories at soccer, or straight A exams to boast about for my angel children. But I am still proud that I am still standing here in one piece living and coping with the void that their departures have created. Cheers!   Photo credit: Pixabay

Question of the day: How many Children do you have?

How do you stay strong and positive when there is really nothing to be happy about? This is one of the main questions parents contemplate every day when dealing with illness of their children. Thousands of children in this country are chronically ill. Some need tonnes of hospital care in addition to needing around-the-clock care when they are at home. Their healths are not only as fragile but also unstable. Their parents and carers are the rock solid people that cope with these emotional troughs and peaks around the clock. But are those calm and calculated exteriors really for real? Could there be butter jelly real-life people standing behind those calm and strong exteriors that many parent carers appear to possess? The answer is an emphatic yes! When the whistle of life blew everybody planned to grow up, get an education or learn a skill, become successful, get married or into a relationship and have kids…. healthy kids. I will be very worried about anyone who before encountering their child’s illness meticulously spent time planning and expecting it. It is no wonder then, that many people who find themselves in this situation are not only clueless and confused about what to do but are also overwhelmed by it. One of the safest mindsets that many of the parents I have come across have is pessimism. Pessimism and not been positive is like a safety net for their emotions. In fact until very recently I shared the same opinion. Think about it this way – if you are not expecting anything good, or not expecting good news about an issue how can you be disappointed? Disappointment is a feeling I think one experiences when people or situations fall below our expectation. If there is no expectation, then there is no disappointment right? Well, that’s how pessimists and “not positive” people think. You will notice that I do not call them “negative people” because my interactions have shown that there is a big aversion for the “negative tag”. It’s like an extreme description that is perceived as a defeatist description of how the mindset that these “not positive” people have. See, whatever we call it, firstly, I will like to bring up the ideology of the “glass”. I am sure you are all familiar with this analogy. Imagine a glass on a table, its capacity was say 100mls but 50mls of water was put inside. This means the glass held half its content capacity. When we all view this glass, we can choose to see it either as half full or as half empty. But I want to ask you one question, does this change the volume of water in the glass? – No. So my point is that, like we all know, the glass is either half full or half empty but one way of viewing this glass can give hope, peace, calmness to the viewer. Remember the contents remain the same. So sincerely it is true that not expecting anything means you do not get disappointed. But the risk in that is that “not ever expecting” or “not being positive” can leave you feeling as low as your expectation. That lowness can leave you sad and constantly existing in a state of sadness can have health implications for you. In the end, the problem may or may not go away but what we lose is “you”. We lose your true self, your true happiness, your true zest for life, you become hurdled into an emotional corner trying to save your heart from heartbreak that may occur as a result of your child’s failing health. Mind you, children feed off the energy we exude. No matter how we put on a front, our true feelings are hard to mask from people we spend hours with. Our frustrations, irritations and sadness filter through our remarks, comments, temperaments, and mood swings. We do ourselves an injustice because we also unknowingly lose out on quality, valuable and irreplaceable time that we can share with our children – Sick and healthy. It is true that by being “not positive” we can shield ourselves from disappointment (remember the no expectation no disappointment argument). What we also may end up doing unknowingly is erecting a wall around ourselves. Only a few people can handle being “not positive” and staying in control of their emotions especially in other aspects their lives.  What really tends to happen when we are “not positive” is that we start to slip away and stop living because we tend to mainly experience worry (even though you don’t realise it). I remember as a child we got told this story- full credit to the unknown author: A man was sent to a village from a shoe factory to see if there was possibility of expansion for the business. He got there and it was a very backward village with people wearing leaves, on barefoot. In fact it looked like Stone Age. He walked all around and the story was the same so he went back reporting that it was a total waste of money going there stating that the people had never even heard of shoes. After a while, the company sent another man to see if any development had come to the village. He did but the story was still the same. So he went back and told the company that there was a massive opportunity there. They asked him if the people had become civilised now, he replied to the contrary. They wanted to know why he had such an idea. He told them that their lack of civilisation was his opportunity. The people had never heard of shoes and it was his opportunity to market it to them. In the end he made massive profits selling more than anyone in the firm. So, why this story? You see the two people like in our glass analogy, saw the view of the same situation differently. It did not change the fact that the village was still in Stone […]

Hospital life – Staying strong and positive

It was a lovely party and the music was on full blast. Everyone was so excited. I was dancing really hard. My heart was pounding and I could feel the adrenaline rush. Oh! how I loved parties. This one was being hosted by my friend Nkem. No one could pull off this scale of grove better than him. Everyone was there. Everyone that mattered. There was booze, food, small chops …everything. However, despite all the fun,I had a niggling feeling I could not shift. It was exploding within me but the fun was just too much to attend to it. Dance! Dance!! Dance!!! That’s all I was doing. I was just helpless to the beat. Until….. It exploded…. I ran as fast as my feet could carry me to save me the embarrassment. I was 39 years old. How could I explain what was happening. I ran past a couple making out at the foot of the stairs, brushed past a few people on the corridor. I wished I had wings. From my peripheral vision, I could see that none of them could tell what was happening to me. That was a relief. The door was in sight. Phew… I would sort myself out as soon as I reached it. If only I could get there very quickly. It must have been just five steps away. I could see the door and all I wanted was to get behind it. This explosion was under control…at least for now. Suddenly it began to turn into a burning sensation. Bang! Bang!! Bang!!! I wished my fist could burst the door. I was banging for dear life. The door was locked. Someone was in there. “Come out…. come out….”, I screamed. My voice was inaudible with all the racket.The damned music! I could not believe that I had let the silly beats get me into trouble. The door began to open…. slowly….but it was too late.  I could feel the woosh. The explosion was officially on full blast . I managed to save my face as I slammed the door shut behind me. I had peed my pants. It was so embarrassing. At my age, I could not imagine that I had been so daft. I managed to sit on the loo. My bladder was still very full despite the accident. There was more but it felt stuck. “Why can’t I wee?”, I wondered. I tried to push the wee like a woman in labour. I pushed and pushed without success.  It just did not budge. “Was I sick? What was wrong with me?”, I could feel myself entering panic mode. Don’t do it…Don’t wee… Who was saying that? I could hear the faint cry in the distance There was a burning pain in my groin now. So I tried to push again. Don’t doooo iiiiiiiittttt! “Shut up… who the hell is saying this. What is happening to me?”, I screamed feeling very upset. “I need to gooooo”, I said sobbing quietly. pheeeewwwwwww…….. The sound of my relief as I let the sweet urine pour out from my bladder through my itsy bitsies down the toilet. I shut my eyes and enjoyed the relief. Who was saying that.  But suddenly my legs began to feel wet. Errrm… I was sitting on a toilet, why was my body feeling wet. This was a weird day. I had not drank a drop of alcohol. I felt horrified. “Wake up ! Wake up ! You are soaked!”, That was definitely a man’s voice. It was Noah my partner. How did he enter the toilet? Surely, I locked the door behind me. So I opened my eyes curiously wondering how on earth that happened. I was soaked. It was Noah alright, but I was not in the damned toilet! I must have emptied a truckload of urine on our bed….again. “Are you ok darling?”, Noah asked me calmly but no matter how he tried to downplay the obvious, I was too embarrassed to speak. I picked up the pillow and hid my face. OMG! I was soaked in my own waste! I did not answer… I was still in shock. I am 39 years old and have no idea what to do! Thanks for reading Photo credit: Pixabay

A wet dream

Tribute to CATS   I have this teddy bear cat in my house. It is orange with brown whiskers. It sits proudly on my son’s bed. It is an emblem to us as a family. It represents hope, peace and a united fighting spirit. We call it CATS seems cheeky right? Well you will know why we chose that name in a moment. Looking around my home, you will find many of those CATS around, perhaps ten of them. CATS actually stands for Children Acute Transport Service. It is an acronym. When my son was born, he was very unwell. As soon as I had him in my arms, I knew he was not right. I could have brushed it off as paranoia but because I had been through extreme experiences after birthing each of my boys, the consultant knew not to brush off my concerns and thankfully so. In no time, he was in a coma. He was slipping away. That was when I heard the name CATS for the first time. CATS was the intensive care ambulance we were waiting for to transport us to Great Ormond Street Hospital where hope lived. CATS was the name of the service I apprehensively asked the nurses about when I wanted to know their proximity since the last time we heard that they were on their way… amidst their pleas for me to calm down. How could I? It was hard to be calm when my son’s life hung on a balance it was hard to think straight or make sense of anything. Then suddenly, CATS arrived! When CATS arrived, it felt like an army of knights had arrived. Looking at them, they looked built for the occasion. There was a doctor and a nurse on board. They took what seemed like ages to transfer all the equipment from the hospital into the ambulance. I am sure it happened very quickly but that day, it felt like years. We were on our way to the intensive care unit in London to save my boy’s life. Neeeee…… nooooor………neeeee…..noooooor The sirens blared. I cried with each beep because I had no idea if he was going to make it. Neeeee…… nooooor………neeeee…..noooooor I was scared but reassured by the expertise before me from where I sat on that ambulance. They were pricking and prodding my boy. Putting cuffs here and thermometers there. They simply knew their onions. Although my heart was heavy, it was hopeful. The CATS team were super professional. Reassuring me of our arrival in no time. They tried to keep me distracted by talking to me. I felt cared for…. Not shoved away because I was not the patient. There was a seat for us his parents on the ambulance. After we arrived and our child was transferred into the intensive care, CATS bade me farewell and gave me a parting gift – the CATS cuddly cat. Since then, we have made over 10 of such trips. We unfortunately have had a lot of intensive care admissions but there has not been a time where I have doubted the capability of the CATS team to deliver my son to where help lay. I know many parents appreciate them and we are all thankful for the excellent service that we enjoy via CATS for our kids. My son recently needed CATS again but we got given a bag for life bag with mini brushes and toothpastes for freshening up on the go. This year I understand CATS is 15 years old. 15 years of delivering hope to our little fragile ones. I am thankful to them for a great service. My son will not be here if CATS did not do their job as well as we all know and love them for. So once again, as I look at this cuddly soft toy – CAT I remain happy and hopeful that come what may, help will always be on the way. Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed reading this, you may also enjoy some other topics we have discussed in this series. Photo credit: Pixabay      

Hospital life – Tribute to CATS

The army of parents helpers. Yes, I like to think of all the friends I have made along my way on this journey of parent caring as an army. A legion, in fact a confraternity! There is something very comforting about meeting and knowing parents on the hospital ward where your child is being cared for. It feels like we all share in that unity of purpose. We all find ourselves trying to be the best parents we can be to the children who are all severely unwell. There is a comfort in sharing our journeys together. I like to group the parents into three categories: the short stayers the long stayers and the returnees Yes, it is pretty self-explanatory. This short stayers come to the ward and stay for a short while. Some are out within a matter of days. The longest ones here stay a couple of weeks. The long stayers are the hospital Methuselahs like myself. They stay for months and sometimes years. While the returnees have been on the ward for  either long or short stays in the past and find themselves back again staying for a long or short time. It doesn’t really matter. I have struck many a friendship on the ward. They are very sincere and true friendships. Unlike other friendships – normal ones that happen in your normal lives outside the hospital, these hospital friendships have no baggage. It is just simply struck over a chat, a cuppa or on a corridor while watching the kids play. There are no complications where these friendships are concerned. These friendships do not depend on class, money, status or things like that. Life humbles us like a pack of sardines and we find ourselves brought together by fate. Our paths cross as a result of something otherwise negative – sickness. These beautiful friendships blossom and grow amidst  our struggles. We seldom plan to strike them but the positiveness and strengths we draw from them keep them alive. We share and unburden our pains with one another without any fear of being judged. There is a comfort in knowing  that when you say the weirdest thing about how you feel, the listener not only understands but chances are that they have felt that same way before. We share thoughts we cannot even disclose to our otherwise nearest and dearest. We moan without worrying too much about boring the other party. It is an interesting type of moan where we all take turns. We listen because we learn from one another. We don’t switch off midway like our regular friends who we feel tend to moan about things we do not consider to be problems and who feel we are broken records. We rejoice when the other party rejoices over the progress of their child. We are allowed to feel jealous and wish for the same progress without being judged. We are sad when we hear the other parents kids are deteriorating. We whisper  prayers for each other. We draw strength from one another and pull ourselves along the path. My friends feel like a support group because in no time, we exchange contacts and carry on our friendships even after the long/short stays. With these army of parent helpers as I love to call them, we are never truly alone. It is always interesting to meet them when we return to the hospital. It is of course sad to be back but for some of us with seriously unwell children, hospitalisation is unfortunately part of our existence. For this reason, it is inevitable that children’s admissions coincide and we see again. It is always fun to catch up on all the progress and gossip from the last time we were on the ward. Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed reading this, you may also enjoy some other topics we have discussed in this series. Photo credit: Pixabay

Hospital Life – The army of parents helpers.

Looking ahead can be impossible when you loose someone you love. I welcome you to unite your heart with mine today. We lose the ones we love in different ways. Some fall out of love with us, some abandon us and some unfortunately…die. Of all the losses, death stings the hardest because with death comes a finality. In death lies the impossibly of a reunion with the loved one at least not in this world. However, in death lies freedom. Freedom from all the limitations that life can bring. Limitations of suffering, poverty, distance , time and even … sickness. Death can conjur sad memories… only if you let it. We all experience our thoughts. If you think about something hard enough, you will feel it soon enough. When we lose someone we love, let us be comforted by the life we once shared with them. Let us experience the thoughts about the good times, the happy times, the laughter, the gains, the milestones. This is an important gift from them to us.The privilege of sharing in their joys and sufferings can not be taken away by death. Therefore no matter how death chooses to come, let us experience those thoughts. Let us realise that death is the ultimate end to the journey of all life…. There are no timescales. When it’s time, it’s time. Sometimes it feels too short in our eyes but it is long enough for the deceased. “Fulfilment is not found in the number of days lived. It is found in the unquenchable joy that fills each day. Life may be short but the joy that fills each moment makes it perfect!” … Let us allow those feelings take their roots in our heart because at the end of the day, it is not how far our days on this earth are stretched that matter. It is how well we live and enjoy each of those days we live.. The more you think it, the more you believe it…. Let us forget the if’s, why’s and but’s that bring tears and focus on the gratitude of being part of the story of what was once the life of the one that once shared our lives. I love you all very dearly and I thank you for supporting us through this most difficult time. So I ask you this, in light of what we have just talked about above: “Is there any one you have lost to distance, heartbreak or quarrel?” You have the chance today to make your peace with them and be part of their story again. Don’t leave it till too late you never know what lies around the corner. Make that call you if have the time today!   Thank you for reading If you enjoyed this, you will find more articles like this here Photo credit: Pixabay

Death at my door D.A.M.D (Musings of a grieving parent) Part 8 – MAKE YOUR PEACE

One of the perks of being alive is feeling life flow through you. Sometimes this is all a parent carer feels thankful for. Trust me, I have been there. When you wake up day in day out in a hospital ward with your child, without a discharge date in sight, it can feel very dark inside even when the sun makes an early appearance in the sky.  You may feel ready to take on all the challenges awaiting on one day while you may feel stressed when you wake up the next day. Hospital life can be so unpredictable. They can range from being quiet and having a lie in on the ward to becoming quite full on with your child having to deal with so much pain. One good thing about being positive after all the lashing positivity gets is that it can help keep you in a good place psychologically and emotionally.You know I too like to stay positive. It can help you deal with things that are outside your control by giving you a calm head with which to face the situation. We all tend to only have the ability to give only what we have within us.  If we allow ourselves to be constantly stressed, frustrated and unhappy in our mostly challenging circumstances with our children, then that stress is all we will have to give. You may find that you begin to feel very irritable and pressured. Even the best among us have reported that at such times, they tend to snap at the Health care providers (HCPs)(who by the way mostly mean well), or even start having a go at their children. This brings me to the need to try to find if there is any way of finding this situation palatable. Can there really be anything positive about being in the hospital with your child? Hospital! How can anyone see anything positive about such an experience. Well, you will be surprised, I have squeezed out some positives that I noticed about this hospital life. The most  important one being the ability to have this conversation with you through this medium. It never would have happened if I was living my old life. So for that, I am humbled. I thank you! You learn to be patient : One virtue worth possessing in life is patience. Well, until you are stuck in hospital either as patient or carer, you would never imagine the level of patience buried within you. You have to wait, wait and wait for nearly everything. Wait for doctors to come, wait blood tests, wait for results, wait for your child’s to get better! It’s like an endurance test. This is a fine attribute that most parents in hospital posses which they take for granted. So here I am raising your awareness to it because it is a real virtue that you possess and should be proud of. You learn that you can be creative too : Another funny lesson you learn in the hospital is how to slow down.  Oh! I could just zap through life if I could. But with time you learn to perform activities very slowly to pass the time. If you do things too quickly then you are left with too much idle time which by the way fuels boredom. You start to find creative ways to pass time which only ends up being to your advantage as a human being.. At one point, I was going to the kiddies play room to collect colouring sheets to paint on. Imagine that level of boredom. You will, if you allow yourself get very creative. I know people initially struggled with this in hospital but later became gurus at passing the time. There are many activities that you can try. You can do some colouring, puzzles, crosswords, read books, browse the Internet, the list is endless. You get in touch with your social side : A beautiful privilege you can enjoy is meeting lots of different people. I was lucky to be in a hospital as rich in its medical prowess as it was rich in diversity. People from all over the world were treated there. If you look around you in whichever hospital you find yourself, there will be many people from various walks of life. Hospital life needn’t be all doom and gloom. It can be an opportunity to meet people, exchange ideas, hear people inspiring stories about how others cope with their struggles. Such stories derived through first hand interaction can be quite strengthening. You appreciate how adaptable your taste buds are : Although you might argue that hospital food is not the best in the world, you will agree that by trying various dishes on the menu, you become exposed to so many different types of food. do you realise that if you were not thrown into this situation, you would never have dreamt of tasting many of the near-delicacies you have experienced. Wether or not you enjoy them will be a subject for another day. So you might argue that what I said now was just putting a positive spin on your horrible food experiences. I agree but it does make sense. In all sincerity,  I have increased my recipe library as a result of trying out new tastes acquired while in the hospital. Just keep an open mind, you never know what you might discover.! You learn to be more prudent : Another important skill you acquire during a long hospital stay is prudence. Everyone knows it can be very expensive living away from home. You have feeding costs, transport costs, and even at times it can cost you your job and means of livelihood too! Sadly, not all bosses can accommodate long absences. You learn to spend wisely, find ways to reduce transport costs. For instance, I discovered that by downloading apps for the train, I could get very cheap deals on advance train tickets! You are also prudent with your time. You learn to allow […]

Hospital Life- hospital stay can have it’s lessons

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I remember the first day I heard Yanni’s music. I was young, maybe 17 or 18 years old. I had gone to visit my boyfriend at his own university. It was a very hot day. A typical African day. I remember sitting outside his room trying to get as much fresh air as I could to cool down my burning body. I had many thoughts on my mind. I was not really sure why I decided to sit outdoors. It was a busy hostel. One of the types outside the campus. A studio flat but in those days, we called it a self-contained room.  By student’s standards, that was cosy. Well, as I sat outdoors taking in the atmosphere, watching all the students hustle and bustle about their business, there it was…. The sound of his music… It sounded like chimes.  extremely melodious. My ear canals picked up the sound from somewhere and one thing those ears of mine never did was deceive me.I looked instantly towards the direction of the music. It came from a room about 3 doors away. I sat there taking in the music and hoping there will be no interruption in the power supply to cut my enjoyment short. I knew it was the kind of music that I wanted to listen to. The chords were so calming… so foreign, so different, so me…. I did not know who the musician was but I sincerely did not want the music to stop. I listened to track after track and suddenly the heat did not matter any more. Suddenly, my worries seemed to float like butterflies on the chords of the music. everything seemed to melt away into nothingness as I listened. I had never experienced that feeling before. It had energy. It was rippling through me and making me happy. Then suddenly, the music stopped. It came to an end! I wanted more there was no way I was letting go. I had tasted this musical fruit in the most unlikely Eden but I was certainly not repenting of it. I wanted another bite, another mouthful. In fact, I wanted my own tree. I walked to the room and tapped the door gently. “Hi bro”. I said as a guy opened the door. He was very muscular and stern looking. My fears ignited and I panicked. I certainly did not think this through. I hoped  for my sake that my quest for this strange music would not land me in trouble, There were fears at the time about cultists in this school. I wondered if my move was really a good idea. He looked at me and nodded. He was not looking too happy to be disturbed I guess or maybe that was just how his face was. “O boy no vex abeg”, I began to speak but loosing my courage by the moment as he seemed to frown a bit more as I spoke. ” I really enjoyed the piece of music you just played. You have such fantastic taste in music. Please I hope you will not mind telling me the name of the artist?” He seemed to relax a bit and even smiled to prove it. “Yanni”. Thanks, I did not realise anyone else was listening. People don’t usually like my type of music around here. They call it weird and boring because it is not hip- hop”, he said. We both laughed. “They need their heads testing”. I said thanking him for the information. ” I have never seen you here before”, he began saying as he took a step outside his door. That was the scary thing about asking boys simple questions back then in school. I hoped he was not getting any ideas. “Yes, I am just visiting my boyfriend”. I said smiling, knowing I had burnt any cable of attachment he was intending to throw my way. “Nice one. I hope he knows he is a lucky guy. Only a few ladies with class appreciate my music”. he said. “Thanks”, I smiled shyly. Well sorry guys, that’s all I get to tell you about my first Yanni encounter over 15 years ago now. I have not stopped listening to Yanni ever since. Many have also discovered him through me which is an absolute privilege. He is just an amazing composer. Recently, I had the priviledge of watching him play and it was an even more mind blowing experience. He is one of those people that you could listen to all day. He is as talented as he is inspiring. He seems very interested in connecting personally with his audience. He does not just throw the music at you but gives you some background to nearly each piece. This gives substance to the music. There is no sweeter feeling than eavesdropping on the reason why artists create their pieces. Were they happy, sad, heartbroken or in love when they created the piece? Filling up the human curiousity, giving us the gossip behind the scenes makes the experience even more memorable and remarkable to us as listeners. While you can enjoy the piece as you want, telling us the story behind the piece gives us the added advantage of enjoying it as the artist intended for it to be enjoyed when he was creating the piece. He is also a very spiritual person and puts a lot of thought into his work. He obviously makes a very strong connection with a being higher than him to be able to create each of those mind blowing sounds. In fact what I find most intriguing is the fact that he creates every piece of sound in each piece he presents. I have some favourites and I invite you to listen to them too. These are top on my Yanni playlist. …Deliverance, Playing by heart, Playtime, Rainmaker, Nightingale, Nostalgia, Truth of touch, Aria…. I could go on and on…. I often listen to Yanni in the mornings when I take my walk. I experience an ecclesiastic feeling […]

The sound of his music- Listening to Yanni (A personal tribute)

We become strong people not because we have the best situations But because we make the best out of every situation👍. Good opportunities can be sandwiched in thorny paths. They are not to be found by everyone but by that someone who is courageous enough to thread that path. Fear 😱can steal the strength💪 to carry on. Rise above fear to see what life is really teaching you with the precariousness of your situation. There are strengths 💪💪deposited in you by God for every journey. You are on a mission in this world and your God “chi” did not send you on that mission empty handed. 🙏 You were created ready even though you do not realise it. The tools 🔧⚒⛏ you need are hidden within you.   You may never know….but when the time comes You will find them deep within…hidden away from prying 👀eyes👀. Forged by the heat of the situations you loathe. So quit complaining and start believing that you can overcome💪💪. That is only when you will see what lies within. I wish you a lovely week and hey….DO NOT BE AFRAID!   Thank you for reading. You may also like to read other articles like this. They can be found here. Photo Credit: Pixabay

Strengthening words for this stressful life…Click to see and enjoy ;-)

As I stood at the reception waiting my turn today and just before me was a man waiting to be seen. It was his turn. He had his daughter in a wheelchair while he stood behind her hanging on some of the bags he was holding on the handle of the wheelchair. He smiled at the lovely receptionist. He seemed surprised to see her. After exchanging pleasantries, he announced that it had been three years since his last hospital appointment. Luckily, his daughter had taken a good turn these past few years. “She has been a good girl and stayed at home”, he joked. We all smiled. I couldn’t stifle my giggle. He was certainly a jolly good fellow. That was when he expressed his surprise at seeing the receptionist (confirming my initial thoughts). “How about Mason?”, He asked “Oh, he was transferred”, the lady announced sounding surprised. “You remember Mason? He left over a year ago”, she added. “How can I forget Mason?”, He asked turning towards me as he did. “Did you know Mason? Sorry I can’t help asking because he was such a helpful man”, he said. “Ah yes! I remember Mason, he was certainly one of the nice ones”, I replied. That was really putting it mildly. I had to give a short answer because I was in a hurry and couldn’t wait for it to be my turn. Honestly Mason was excellent. We could have gone on and on about his nice attributes and not run out of accolades to qualify him with. Every meeting with Mason had been an opportunity to be given a positive experience. One that you took happily into your day. The fact that someone who had not used the service for the past three years remembered him obviously said something about him. It got me thinking about how much of a shame it was that not everyone in the hospital was like Mason. You see, for a place where the primary aim was to nurse back frailty and care for less able children, it didn’t feel like too much to ask for! The last few years have seen the services rendered by the NHS decline at a geometric rate. We hear these things in the media about cuts to the NHS service, shortage of funds, pressures on the system due to rising population, migrant exploitation of the service, inability to hit targets set by the NHS governing bodies and we shrug them off. They really mean nothing to anyone who does not depend on these services to exist. Some of us see it either as an exaggeration or scaremongering tactic but it is actually a reality. Pressures on hospital services have meant that many of the staff are overworked and trusts are short staffed. Consequently, the end users of the service are left to bear the brunt. For occasional hospital users, this decline is neither noticeable nor worrying. However, for those who rely daily on the service to cater for their children, they cannot help but worry about the future. Despite all the grim facts, some staff still shine brighter than others. I joke in my head a lot about the medical profession being like priesthood where ideally you need to have a “call” to it. Although remuneration can be arguably attractive, without this “call” to the profession, challenges like the ones currently faced by the NHS create unfavourable experiences for end-users like parents, carers and ultimately patients. The attitude of many medical and auxiliary staff can be blamed on the level of pressures they have to deal with as a result of the shortcomings inherent in the system. However, the existence of a real call and genuine desire to be in the profession can create the right attitude amidst the trials. Merriam Webster online dictionary defines a calling to be “a strong desire to spend your life doing a certain kind of work… A strong inner impulse towards a particular course of action…”. For those who attempt to enter any field without the strong desire to do so, the challenges that the field might throw at them can potentially lead to a change in focus from giving the best to living for the perks on offer eg remuneration, holidays and other benefits. These perks are good but when they become the focus, they can cause disinterest in the job when hard times strike. At such times, they can make work feel more like a chore, become less enjoyable and frustrating. Subsequently the end users of the services rendered by these category of people become the proverbial blades of grass that suffer at the hands of their internal disagreements between the elephants of frustration and irritation at their job. So as it got to my turn to be served by this lovely receptionist, I remembered Mason. He had set the standard for me and I hoped to come out feeling positive after being served by the new receptionist . There is still hope for the future of the service. Despite the hard times, if all staff play their own parts properly, they can make a difference. This will make the overall experience enjoyable for staff, parents, carers and patients. Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed reading this, you may also enjoy some other topics we have discussed in this series. Photo credit: Pixabay

Hospital life : Attitude can make a difference to the service you receive

Are you a one night wonder? A flash in the pan? Do you feel like you start many things and never get to finish one before jumping into the other? If you answered yes to any of those then you are like me. In fact we should be twins. The problem that people like us have is that we are multi talented. We have many abilities. We are the victims of our art. The danger of knowing how to do too many things is that you see opportunities everywhere you turn. Each new opportunity looking sweeter and more alluring than the last.  Spontaneity is fun. In fact do you know that some people- the-not-spontaneous-and–over-careful-ones even envy us? That is so funny. What they do not see is how crippled we are by our “very own” selves. We look all around us and all we see are lots of “coulda woulda shoulda’s” stacked around us. We could have done this better if we tried harder… we would have done that better if we stuck by it long enough or should have done this instead of that one we are doing now. We even think that we don’t do regrets when the English meaning of those feelings is just that! Deep down, I wish I were more patient and more careful. I do try to suppress the urge to jump in, out and away from things.It’s so hard to stop myself. I have asked my self why I jump about. Here are some answers I came up with: Some things are just too boring to do. Yes it’s really true and hey… that’s not my fault darling! Some things are just as boring as…i don’t know, colour white? You just do them and they just go on and on and on…forever Some things are too slow. I wonder how people do slow paced. Like pleaseeee….”hurry up!” It takes the life out of Alive when things come together so slowly Some things are more complicated than they seem. Yes. I put my hand up… sometimes I misjudge and underestimate things. In the end I find the next exit as soon as I hit hard times. Life is too short! Some things are too exciting to resist. Ha! This is another one. I need to have a go at the juicy stuff. How was I to know that the one I was bent on doing would be outdone by some others in the future. Some exciting prospects that I bump into are simply irresistible. If only that word choice did not exist! Things are just exciting until new ones come along. I keep on getting sucked in.  So my friend,  I could go on and on but I think you get the point…. It is quite an exciting and adrenaline filled ride on my roller coaster. However I think that at some point when the stock-taking time of life arrives, it is important to look again at the way we live our lives and see if we are really living optimally. Surely my way is exhausting and counter productive. This is why I have decided that the way to go is to spice things up. Although, that said, I don’t want to become boring either. I just want to find a way to enjoy the best of both worlds that’s all. I want to find a new way to enjoy my doses of spontaneity but with my eyes open. Tone things down a bit. Stick by stuff a bit more. You know? That sort of thing. So here is some advice I have for me. I think that if I stick with my own words, they will keep me on the straight and narrow as regards jumpology 😀 : Stay calm always. This is my numero uno advice to moi. Let’s assume for a second that people have 50grams of adrenaline when they get excited. I bet mine shoots up to like 50,000 in less than a minute. I get over excited about things and I am really sure that a bit of calmness would help me see things clearly before delving into them. Think again about the next course of action. Things are not always they way they seem. All that glitters is not gold. So rather than allow my heart take over the decision making, it may be time to engage the brain- common sense as they call it. Do some research. It will be a good idea to take the time to research into stuff before plunging in. I need to learn to find out all I can about something before doing it. Asking questions especially from those already doing what I am trying to get into will help me learn more about what ti expect. It may even spring up some hidden surprises. Things that only those with prior knowledge can feedback to inquisitive minds. Stick at things even when they get tricky. That’s not a sign that I should leave but that I should persevere. I have to give myself time to learn. Until something is learnt and mastered, it may seem tricky and even impossible to do. Thank you so much for listening to me today. It was a rant that has left me feeling tons better than I did before starting. You see, nobody is perfect. We all have our flaws and challenges. Trust me, everyone is striving to improve one thing or another about themselves. Sharing this will hopefully help me and other jumpers like me. Cheers. If you enjoyed this, then please click here for even more. Photo credit: Pixabay

Thinking out loud….Jumpology… Why can’t I settle for one thing?

Hmmm…. That’s all I can really say Honestly, I totally give up on trying to pack these boobs! Yes, you heard right…my boobs. See nobody told me when I was a little teenager waiting patiently for my blessed jugs to appear that they will later nose dive as they have. For goodness sake I am not even 40 yet. I cannot even bear thinking about how they will look like when I hit the big 4-0! Will there even be anything left to pack? Haba…. e no good o. Well I will give you a background to help you feel my pain. I remember when I was in Senior Secondary School year 1. All my friends had grown their boobies. I mean full fledged ones. I did not even have any trace. It was so annoying. Seeing as many of them had began to sprout theirs as we finished primary school, it was not surprising that I had become very impatient with mother nature. Surely I was not going to be forgotten! I had too much brain-dowment ,perhaps that was why my physical en-dowment was lagging behind. At one point, I even contemplated putting some foams in my bra-tops…. Oh those blessed bra- tops. I had worn the glory out of them. sometimes I wondered why my mother even bothered. There were no breasts to even cover. I am sure if the manufacturer knew me, they would have named the underwear “chest-tops” for my sake.  I like to think that I had very good friends (never mind what they may have said about this subject behind my back) . None of my friends said anything to hurt me. They knew more than most that where I was lacking physical endowment, I compensated for with my sharp tongue. So what if I had no boobs? Had they not heard about late bloomers? That was my bold face talking. The gospel truth was that I was hurting even though I never showed it. I ignored the looks on their faces when they talked about their puberty related woes. Imagine them crying about painful menstruation when some of us did not even have boobs. Please don’t get me started on the silly red ninja. That one took her time to arrive. Story for another day. So having waited for more than a few years for my blessed boobies, I spent most of the time praying for sizeable ones. After all the patient dog always ate the fattest bone right? I even planned what type of bras I would be buying. I expected that I would be endowed with large sized paw-paws. I did my research on how to avoid the back pain many of my friends attributed to their over sized boobies. Then, just before the end of my secondary education, my boonies finally arrived. Haaaaallleluyah! It happened so quickly and even embarrassed me in the process I am not going to lie. I went home one summer holiday bare chested as usual and resumed in September fully bloomed. The blessed boobies arrived with a bang and who was  I to even complain? My prayers had been answered. They say be careful what you wish for but this time, I wanted every “large surprise” that I could get. When school started, I did not go unnoticed… at least not by the boys. They had their heads turning and even some lips wagging. I got nicknamed “young shall grow” that term. I was not even sure if it was a compliment or mockery. Whichever way, I took it in my own stride and ignored it. Those were the glory days. The stupid boobs did not grow as large as I wanted. They were not even the standing ones. Oh don’t tell me that you had no idea about breast categories? Well, let me enlighten you. There were those that stood at attention, those that always pointed downwards, the ones that came with eraser nipples the types that managed to escape with a paint on nipple. Seriously, the last category were boobs that looked like God had run out of nipple material during boob production. Well, since my intention is not to paint you a picture of the boobs I finally got, your guess is as good as mine when I say I was very disappointed with what I got considering how long I had waited for the blessed boobs. Thankfully I was a christian and did not lack in the department of faith so  I hoped for the price in future. I heard that there was a Canaan of maturity where women acquired literal milk (for their children) and honey (for their boob sucking and squeezing husbands). In that boob Canaan, all boobs bulked up and responded to life by growing big enough to satisfy their owners.I waited and bore my pre-motherhood disappointments forever looking forward to welcoming my husband and babies one day. As a result, my wedding day became my happiest day for more reasons than normal as you are now fully aware of. Bang, bang, bang…. I wanted to start having children without any further ado. He, like all men had other ideas. We need to plan, we need to save he said. Let us not rush. We need to give them a steady future….all that was bla bla bla to me. I needed my kiddies. So one day, period got lost in the post and bam! I was pregnant. Happy days…. I watched daily as my boobs metamorphosed into huge jugs. By the time the babies arrived, I was as huge as a cow. I breastfed them. The more I did, the more they grew. After the initial boob pains of breastfeeding, I was blossoming, blooming. I went many cup sizes up. I achieved bra cup sizes that I could have only ever dreamed of. My cleavage was so huge. I did not even need push-ups to bring the breasts together. Happy days… Sadly after the last breast feed, I did […]

Woman being… Why are my boobs so small?

So today is a Friday like no other. I have had a roller coaster day. It started off very promisingly but waned along the way…. I had an interview to attend. Supposedly the first step into the rest of what has become my new life. I was previously a kept man you see. I had everything being done for me. I did not even need to lift a finger. Money was not an object. Well, that was then… this is now and… the story has changed. A simple disagreement led to a disaster and now I was left to fend for myself. I know what you might think. You will say, is that even a problem? Well I say  it is my problem and a big one at that! I had forgotten how to earn money, pay my own way. I had actually forgotten what it was like to be broke! So that was why I was excited when I got a call from this agency yesterday asking if I could do a job for a reputable company. There was a sense of urgency in the guy’s voice because they wanted someone that could start ASAP and yours truly here- moi was available. We went through all the usual agency-agencee pleasantries. What was your last role? What are you looking for in your next role? Do you think that you can do this role? Those sorts of questions. After surpressing my irritation at these barraging (because don’t forget, I told you that he was the one who called my phone), he decided to put me forward for the role. Come to my office to fill out the formality forms and I will secure you an interview tomorrow, He said. Which by the way is today. So I head up there, fill forms, chit chat, get a time slot for the interview, get the venue details and then waltz off. Happy days! We’ll not until ring ring, my phone goes off. Hello I say Hiya, is this Azuka Mordi? She asks Yeah, you ok? I say I’m good thanks. She says Who’s this? I say still waiting for an intro that did not seem forthcoming! Oh sorry, you came to our office earlier today to fill out forms. She says Luckily for her, that was my only interesting outing and it was not difficult to remember. I have some good news Azuka, She says We have secured an interview for you for tomorrow (Which is today. we had this conversation yesterday …don’t forget) Errrmmm like seriously? Was securing me an interview even in dispute? Don’t worry I did not actually say that. Those were just my thoughts screaming loudly. What I heard myself saying was Oh, that! ok? What time and where? She fills me in with the details as if I did not know or as if it was ever in doubt! So we will send you an email confirmation of all the details. Let us know how you go tomorrow. We are really committed to matching your skills to a job. she says Ok thanks, bye. I say bye bye she says. I hang up feeling like that was so weird! seriously. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx So tomorrow arrives, which is today where I am standing right now and I feel ready for the interview. Mind you, I spent half the night awake practicing all my competencies, scenarios, skills etc for the interview. I then took my time to go through the email that the agent sent me the day before. Suddenly, I felt that spring arrive in my step. This would be a good day. I thought. I would smash this interview and secure the role of my dreams. The agency did say it was temporary but that the firm always kept their candidates on. So nothing to worry about there. I arrived the interview venue 15mins early, good interview ethics in place. I smiled at everyone. I had all my learnt scripts to heart and was waiting to spill them all out. My goal?  To mesmerise the interviewers of course! I aim to please. Come 11.00, interview began. Tell us your skills, tell us a time when xyz happened. How do you handle pressure bla bla bla. You know the usual interview stuff. I had done my research well. I was jabbering away. Good eye contact, good communication, good rapporting. They were smiling, they said they were happy with the spill I gave. Job done! We are happy to offer you this 6 week role! SAY WHAT??? 6 miserable weeks? You mean that all this spill and not sleeping my beauty sleep and I forgot to add, spending the last hour vomiting those first class answers was for only a 6 week role??? GRRRRRrrrrrrrrrrr I did not say that to them though what do you take me for? Composure in tact, smile on point Oh thanks for the opportunity I say I shall make the best of it and who knows with my dedication and hardworking, you may change your mind. We all laugh. Then she says just as we shake hands It will last only 10 weeks. That’s the service level that we need to cover. I hope this will be ok? Oh yes that’s fine I say. Still smiling. She walks me politely out of the office into the lobby where we fill some forms and I take a few ID card photos. In the end I say goodbye, promising to commence on the start date. My face is tearing from the smiles. As soon as I leave the building, I turn the smile upside down into a frown. GRRRRRrrrrr again I am so angry. 10 weeks? I for no just bother myself to day learn script na? I for just do am anyhow anyhow. As if that is not enough as I walk on outside the path that leads to the bus stop guess what happens next?  It starts to rain HAAAAAaaaaaaaa I am soaked to my socks before I even get to the bus stop. […]

No TGIF feeling today!

Many parents know how difficult it is to cope outside the home. What they do not realise is that it is even more challenging when that time outside the home is spent in a hospital ward. Unfortunately, children who became poorly may need a bit more time to get better in the hospital. The good news is that with a few simple steps, it is still very possible to cope even while in hospital with your child. Here are some tips for you which I have found to be invaluable to me as a parent carer. Stop feeling sorry for yourself– I know it’s easier said than done, but all that energy spent feeling sad and sorry for yourself will not change the situation with your child. What is more likely is that by feeling despondent, you will be kept in a state of emotional despair. Try not to dwell on the gravity of your circumstance, take things one step at a time. Ask practical questions about your child’s illness to help you understand things better. Find out about the treatment plan and try to follow the plan one step at a time. For instance, if there will be a blood test, before a scan to decide if an operation will be done. Don’t sit worrying about if the operation will be successful or if everything would ever be normal afterwards. These possible outcomes are real but quite far off. What I found easier to do is To break down the possible events into little chunks. After that, deal with the first part of that chunk sized problem. Next, you can work your way through them one by one beginning with the most imminent step. So from the above example, take the first step by presenting your child for the blood tests, next wait for the blood test results, then get the scan done, after that you wait for the decision about  if the operation will be carried out or not. Only then should you allow yourself contemplate the operation. Working through what lies ahead in this way will help reduce anxiety and keep you more settled. When the operation comes, the team will tell you the next set of plans. In some cases if the blood test results are fine, you may not even need the operation. Therefore if you have expended energy being anxious and scared, it would have all been for nothing. So don’t forget, one step at a time. Know when to ask for help – When parents care for their sick child , they assume full responsibility for them. At home, they are responsible for administering the medicines, preparing and feeds and performing various activities at certain times for their child. Most parents, guardians etc usually like to retain control over these activities even when in hospital. They sometimes request that staff allow them carry on their home routines for medicine administration and/or self-care. Hospital staff will normally accommodate this. However, it is important for carers to know that they can and must ask for help if they begin to struggle. It is alright to speak out without feeling awkward. Staff may not offer to help after the initial request to continue as normal. This is usually out of respect for their wishes. Therefore it may yield no result if carers continue waiting for staff to notice that they are struggling. Not reaching out can mean that help may be delayed. This also applies if you find you are getting stressed and cannot cope emotionally. Accept help especially when offered – Yes! this is a big one. When in any difficulty at times you may find people offering to help you. They may offer to help you take the kids to school, to help you do the shopping, to help you with the ironing. All you most of us keep saying is no no no! You need to realise that the more you decline, the more reduced your chances are of being offered more help in future. People do not like to feel like they are interfering or being too full on. Now please answer this question sincerely – why do you keep declining the help you keep being offered? When people offer you help, it is mainly because they want to. Do you just say no out of habit? Accepting help does not reflect badly on you in any way. It does not even make you weak or a burden. Remember, you are being offered. Even when you go asking for help, it is still a sign that you are strong enough to put your hand up when you feel unable to cope. It does not mean that your acceptance means you are unable to fend totally for yourself. It’s just help. Don’t over analyse why they want to help you. Just snap it up. People can see or sense that you are struggling and generally like to help. So please accept as much help as you can when you are in hospital. There can never be an overdose of help. Make sure you rest – Usually being in hospital is most times synonymous with stress. It becomes impossible to find a downtime amidst the troubles and trials. You must always bear in mind that you matter too. In order for the wheel of your life to keep spinning, you have to be well. If you break down, everything about your superb joggling act either slows down or totally breaks down. You cannot live on air or chocolate and crisps, you need good food and rest for optimal energy levels to be released by your body. So while I agree that it is hard to find good food in a hospital environment, you can at least find shops around that sell good fruits and vegetables, drink lots of water or even bring food from home where feasible. Try not to complain too much – Constantly complaining about your circumstance can increase your stress levels. If you find complaining to be a good […]

Hospital life- How to cope with caring for your child in hospital

A gastrostomy is a device inserted through an opening that is made surgically from the abdomen on the outer skin into the stomach. You can find medical information about the gastrostomy on the GOSH website. Having a gastrostomy tube, means that your child can be fed directly into the stomach. The kind of feeds that ideally go through the gastrostomy  are  in liquid form. So things like milk, water and medication are given through the gastrostomy. It is not correct to give anything into the gastrostomy if the doctor have asked you not to do so. Sometimes in children with stomach/abdominal problems, the gastrostomy is not for feeding into the stomach but for allowing excess secretions to be expelled from the stomach. There are many gastro-intestinal conditions that can lead to this but it is quite normal for the gastrostomy to be used for this. If this is suggested to you as a parent , please do not be alarmed. For us as a family, it was very traumatic to hear that our son had to have this bag. Considering all he had been through, we felt “what else could possibly go wrong”. The good news is that with time, we became more welcoming of this extra bag as we saw the relief it gave our boy. So if this is you right now, just hang in there! For the excessive gastric fluids (or juices from the stomach) to be expelled, a bag is attached to the end of the gastrostomy tube. The doctors used the term “free drainage” to refer to this new bag that our son had to have. You may also hear medical staff say “the gastrostomy is on free drainage” don’t worry, it means the same thing. So what do you have to do on a daily basis with a gastro bag? Here are 3 of the things I did and found most helpful: Empty contents regularly : The bag is emptied at intervals daily. Sometimes the bag can be full of air or bubbly juices. Removing the bubbles from the bag can also help to relieve the child. The bag should be emptied regularly because, if it gets too full, it will be heavy thereby pulling on the stoma (this is what the doctors call the hole through which the gastrostomy tube comes out of the stomach). It can also make the child vomit causing more discomfort. Check the colour of the juices – Ensure the colour of the juice in the gastro bag is not bloody, greeny or any colour other than advised by your medical team. If this is the case, make sure that you contact your medical team as soon as possible because it may be an indication of something. It may also be nothing but it is best to get their advice. Check the gastrostomy stoma site: Sometimes the gastrostomy stoma site can become smelly, oozy or have abscesses. You also need to check the site daily for this. If this is the case, you also need to let the medical staff know so that they can advise you. Sometimes, you may need to be seen for the doctor to decide what to do. It may not be anything major but as you know it is hard for doctors to make decisions over the phone hence, the need to see the your child for a proper assessment to be made. They may also take swab samples of the oozy gunk to look at under a microscope. This will tell the doctors if there is an infection or not. Some infections require antibiotics or other medicines to be ingested. Some other infections can be topical (on the skin). They may give you a cream to apply daily. Generally, these are quite normal occurrences with the gastrostomy that can be resolved if reported quickly. To help avoid ooziness around the gastrostomy stoma site, It is a good idea to clean it daily. Here is how I did: 1 – Use a disposable towel or a dedicated towel. 2 – Moisten with water 3 – Loose the triangle around the gastrostomy (PEG) this will not be required for a MIC button type of gastrostomy 4 – Clean around the site, wipe thoroughly 5 – Examine site for any irregularities or anything unusual 6 – Put triangle back.   If there is oozing  – report it immediately. Only after that and on doctors advise can you care daily. You can 1 – Follow steps 1-5 above * 2 – Apply cream if given. 3 – Put some gauze around the gastrostomy to soak ooze. 4 – Put some paper tape ( only if your are sure that your child is not allergic ) to hold it in place   For gastrostomy bags, there are nice pouches you can buy on amazon to help the child carry the bag discretely. These bags strap around the child’s waist comfortably and the gastro bags can be placed inside. If the gastrostomy extension is too mobile you may ask your HCP for clinifix to help stick the tube against the skin. For PEG users : To stop the gastrostomy disc from sticking/embedding into the stomach wall, ask your nurse to show you how to push, pull and rotate the device. This is advised once a week. You can: 1 – Open the triangle to release the gastro tube. 2 – Push it into the stomach up to one centimetre 3 – Rotate the tube 360 degrees. 4 – Pull back towards yourself ( the 1 centimetre that you pushed in early ) 5 – Secure back in the triangle Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed reading this, you may also enjoy some other topics we have discussed in this series. Photo credit: Pixabay

Hospital Life – The Gastrostomy Stoma Case

What would you like to be when you grow up? Do you remember the question?  All the answers we gave as children always saw us thinking of ourselves as successful high-flying achievers. One of the things no one imagined was the possibility of things playing out differently. Unfortunately, even with perfect planning, the uncertainty of ill-health sometimes rears its ugly head striking us or sometimes our loved ones down. In some families, the ill-health of a loved one does not come without demands. These demands are mostly down to the constraints imposed on the family’s financial, emotional and even mental abilities. Coping despite these new stresses can be almost impossible. Sometimes the illness of the child means that the current home may become unsuitable. It is very heartbreaking for a family home to be assessed as unsuitable for the child . It can leave the family members especially the main carer feeling helpless and inadequate in this regard. Some parents can be left feeling like they have failed in their duty of providing a safe place for their child to live in. Some have gone on to have a resentment towards the Health Care Professionals (HCPs) who make this assessment. These feelings are quite common but it’s important not to see these HCPs as enemies but as people who have stepped in to support the family. Many families find in the course of caring for their loved one that their current living arrangements may need to change. Homes may need to be redesigned to accommodate equipment like wheelchairs as the mobility needs of the sick child deteriorates. Some families may need more space to accommodate specialist equipment in addition to existing ones in the home. Endless reasons abound why formerly comfortable and cosy living arrangements may become inadequate. Moving house can sometimes be the inevitable option for a family. It is a difficult decision to take and carry out. Housing can be a very personal and emotional subject for most families. A house over time becomes a home, a haven and safe place where most family memories are created. The prospect is even made harder for a family with a sick child to contemplate. For this category of families, moving house not only entails the actual house “move” but also means that the services that support the family may have to “move” as well. The structures that have become part and parcel of the family’s coping mechanism may have to change. When there is severe illness in the home, support although readily available may be inaccessible to the family for reasons such as lack of information, time or a simple dis-interest. Over time as the family becomes even more pressured, they begin to become more aware of support structures and gradually access them. Accessing support requires time, patience and adjustment. It is hard to accept the interference of other parties in the home however well intended. Once accepted, families begin to adapt to their new routine and fit in this support into their daily routines to the point of comfort. This leads to a smooth flow of seamless support from the community to the home. When house moves occur, structures which are mainly tailored to suit the family’s peculiar needs may become altered, irreplaceable or totally lost. The prospect of this change can put a family off from taking the next step in accessing more adequate accommodation. Some families are lucky enough to find suitable housing within the same locality. For those who have to move far away, the case is totally different and adds to the already stressed family setup. Change of energy suppliers and familiar infrastructure which seem quite normal can be very disruptive to a family with a sick child. Children may need to change schools. For siblings or children in the home this can be very traumatic. The school setting is more than a place of learning to them. It is a hub of stability, a safe haven. The social ties and friendships formed impress greatly on them emotionally and psychologically affecting their overall well-being. These social ties protect their otherwise fragile and delicate emotions from the goings-on at home. Changing schools can bring even more disruptions to an already chaotic home setting. The familiar school setting can be the one “constant” amidst the dynamism that sums up their daily lives. For parents who live in the same community but have moved far from the school, the commute may be too strenuous for them to embark on with their children. Support exists within the community to help families through this adjustment process. The children and family practice, carers UK and even the social services can advise on issues relating to home-to-school transport, volunteer school-run groups. Changing the GP surgery can be another inevitable change to expect during a house move. The GP surgery is a structure that can evolves into a hub of information for the family. Many GP surgeries in addition to providing primary health care to all families act as sign posters to other services within the community that can support families with sick children. GPs kick start many support and diagnostic processes by making simple referrals which help families access further help. Moving houses may mean changing surgeries. It is normal to feel lost at the prospect of changing GPs. However it is worth noting that since 2015, all GP practices in England have been free to register patients outside their catchment area. Although this is totally at their discretion. it can be worth discussing your family situation with the surgery if you feel your child or loved one may not cope with the change. Things are easier when discussed with the right people. The cost of moving home may be of concern to the family. There is support out there to help families through this process. This can be provided by the social workers and/or community paediatric teams. In some cases where a bigger home is required to accommodate the needs of […]

Hospital life : when your home becomes unsuitable 2

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Hi guys! Thank you so much for staying hooked to our website. It’s always lovely to know you guys are with us every step of the way. So I have been asking myself this question a lot lately. Career change…. to be or not to be? I honestly do not know what the answer to that question is but I am hoping to find out somehow….and fast! As some of you may not know (especially those new to this website) Karl and I are…or rather were full time carers to our son Otito until his demise early this year. The whole idea of setting up this website last year was (in addition to many reasons) to create an outlet for us to express the different emotions we were going through while we were resident with him in the hospital. It turned out to be a whole year long! A year ago what began as a very roller coaster ride led us to finding ways to cope. Our son was hospitalised and there was no hope of a discharge date in sight. With each passing day, he grew more and more fragile. However, we kept our spirits up by spending lots of quality time together as a family amidst our chaotic lives. The journey although tough and almost impossible at times failed to kill us but it sure did make us stronger. Well, sadly he died…. but such is life…. Tell me about bitter pills. This one was huge and we had to swallow it with every strength we could muster. Till date, the effects of that huge pill of life we swallowed with the passing of our son has left us scarred. With each passing day, the scars are becoming more bearable. It is now taking its place amongst many other  scars of life that we bear. Like every warrior, we are proud that we are overcomes by God’s grace. One thing that was apparent when it happened was that we still had to find a way to pull ourselves up and carry on. If not for any reason, for the sake of our son – Mark. Our hero. He had been through the last year living the hospital life with us and although we sadly had the worst outcome since the financial crisis, we still had to find a way to bail ourselves out of the emotional dip we were collectively experiencing as a family. I remember how the grass looked a duller shade of green. The roses were ugly and the skies seemed too grey to look at through the tears we shed. Thankfully having our boy Mark, gave us every reason to move on. Moving on was a bit difficult to do. At every emotional corner it felt like the ground was being pulled from beneath us. We knew not to dwell on those feelings but to confront each day as it came. We had good days, bad days and everything in between. One more thing that felt very strange to adapt to was working…. I wished a lot that I had the luxury of a holiday….a year long vacation to take our minds off things. Some time to grieve and even heal for that matter. Sadly, our lottery tickets were yet to yield the kind of fruit that would have guaranteed such a break. We had to soldier-on on that front as well. One thing I knew for sure was that having been through the last 4 years with a sick child, I was changed forever. I acquired a different view of life while walking that road. One I like to think of as a privileged view. I am sure that it was the type of view the elders boasted about. The one that gave them the advantage of seeing beyond what the youthful eyes could not even behold while standing on a mountain. It was a view that only came through experience. What does not kill you not only makes you stronger but also wiser, I say…hear hear! Now my dear friends… here I am! I have no idea what this big future holds for us. Hopefully some nicer more positive things to pull us out of the feelings we have experienced in the last few months. I have absolutely no idea what to do next (career-wise ) All I know right now is that whatever I choose to do from now on with the rest of my days must be something that makes a real difference. It has to make a difference in the life of others. It has to be more than just earning a wage. Anyone can do that. What we gave our boy was care, love and affection irrespective of his challenges. It elongated his time on earth. He thrived not only on our love but also on the excellent care he received from lots of medical and non-medical people. Trust me, the list of people to thank for their input in Otito’s life is endless. Sitting here today, one thing that consoles me is the level of connection we have been able to achieve with loads of people especially within the last year. It was all thanks to that little man. The people who come frequently to mind are his nurses. I will never forget the way they loved and cared for him both in our local hospital and at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) London. They were like his mums and dads on the ward. They just understood my boy and even though he was hard to please. They knew all his special needs, specifications, demands and still loved and looked after him just as he was. It was actually a fantastic relationship to witness…filled with true love… never wanting him to change who he was but forever helping him to make the best out of the life that he had. They say “you only live once” he sure had a hell of a ride with every member of his team!  My boy did not come into my […]

Career Change? To be or not to be?

Relationships Relationships! A lot has been said about how to keep your relationship flourishing, thriving and growing. There are tons of books about this. I find many to be very true with tips and tricks to revamp even some of the most written off relationships. However, I cannot help feeling that they are not in touch with my reality. You see, there are relationships like mine that start to feel cursed because of an un-foreseen external factor- having a sick child. At the early stage of a relationship, that lovey-dovey-you-can-do-no-wrong phase no one sees it coming. Two people come together, feel strongly enough about each other and then commit to share themselves entirely with each other. That decision forms the basis for what later becomes a magnetic union… a fusion… where children are supposed to spice things up! Well, not for everyone sadly. How about when having a child feels like the worst decision ever. A completely wrong move for you and for your partner. How can your relationship still go on to stand the test of time despite all the new challenges you both become beset with  and I forgot to add for no fault of yours…? Let’s insert a disclaimer here for the purpose of clarity. When I refer to relationships throughout this our heart to heart, I do not in any way imply that the two people must be married (although my religious beliefs may scream). I refer to relationships in both the rigid and loose sense of the word. Let’s just agree to see the relationships I am referring to as the coming together of two like minds hopefully for the long haul. Right? Good, now lets kindly jump right in! So how can your relationship thrive despite the challenges you face as a carer? How can you both still look at each other and still feel lovey-dovey?  Here are some ideas that I have found useful: Expressing yourself – This is a key ingredient that can keep your relationship  thriving. By expressing yourself in your relationship, you  overcome the trap of bottling things up. When a barrier exists between you and your partner, you will be unable to constantly share your problems with each other. The reason it is important to be able to rub you minds together as often as possible is that, ultimately, no one else can understand the gravity of your circumstance more than your partner. Take time to listen to each other. Within your relationship is an interesting symbiosis that holds strengths within it. Sometimes one person is strong for the other. But like a race, you ultimately keep passing this baton of strength to each other. Let pride have no place between you both or else the flow of strength will be limited. If one person is constantly strong and never allows the other to help them when they are weak then the pressure starts to  build up. For the stronger, the inability to keep expressing themselves  hinders self-release. It ultimately leads to frustration, lashing out and undue pressure. Similarly when the other person keeps leaning on the stronger one without getting a grip especially when it matters, they become weakened by the situation thereby losing the ability to be strong. By supporting your partner, even when you cannot feel it, you assume the strength that they lose when they are weak. You each then by that act allow each other to be toughened and strengthened by the situation and challenges you face. It is okay to cry. I cry, it is a nice release if used appropriately. However, like all in life, it requires moderation as crying constantly may trigger self-pity and at times build up stress. Sharing the pain – The challenge of having an ill child is easiest when shared. No member of your partnership must assume monopoly of the child. Mums tend to be guilty of this. They feel that they are the ones best suited to care for the sick child. This may hold true initially especially when the illness is short-term. For example the odd flu or immunisation temperature, the periodic flu and so on. However, when the illness is long-term both of you need to consider a readjustment. Sometimes illnesses stay longer than we think and if they are lifelong, then like with everything else you have to adapt the new routines to suit the family needs.  For starters, the child belongs to you both. It does not matter if both of you are biological parents or not. What matters is that you have both agreed to share responsibility. Let this  responsibility not be shared by mere lip service. Put it into action. Allow your other half to care for the child. If they cannot, help them to learn kindly. If you are learning, be willing to learn. Remember that a problem shared is halved. It is also good for the child to feel the attention from both parents. In addition, especially for parents with other kids, this swapping becomes very useful for the other kid(s). Remember like we said earlier, if you take on too much then the pressure builds up. How can your partner appreciate the challenges you face caring for the child if you do the caring all by yourself. It will be easier for them to appreciate your efforts by experiencing them firsthand.  If your partner is not helping out, encourage them to see that it is actually the responsibility of each parent in the relationship. Create time for each other – This is a very crucial factor. In fact it should be key. In the first place, you are both the bedrocks… the founders of your family. To ignore each other will be as good as switching off the oxygen in the relationship. You both matter. The parental challenges imposed on the relationship due to illness can put a strain on the romance once shared by you both. It is important to put the needs of the children first but do not forget […]

Hospital Life- Relationships

I saw something of my attention today. It was called the 6 C’s of nursing. I was very curious as I saw it conspicuously posted on the noticeboard in the hospital. 6C’s? I thought. A further look reviewed the wheel where each of the C’s were outlined. They were, care, compassion, communication, competence, courage and commitment. It makes sense that these C’s appeared to be the main things nursing was supposed to deliver. I furrowed my brows as I walked away giving each item further thought. I immediately embarked on an unintentional mental assessment of the standard of nursing that I had been exposed to since my son was born. As a team, hospitals dwindle around the standards they are able to deliver from time to time. For example on the weekends hospitals become like ghost zones lacking staff and standards. Facilities are not as looked after as they are during the week. Medical staff are not enough during the weekends. You rather find that weekends are covered by a few familiar staff, predominantly “locums” and  “bank staff”. To me these are mainly roving staff who otherwise have no way of appreciating the delicateness of some patients. Many have no way of knowing the promptness individually required to care appropriately for each patient. In this case not because they lack the skill or competence to do so, but because they have no prior knowledge of the patient as a result of their roving nature. The essential knowledge that familiar staff possess about the delicate patients is taken for granted by the recruiters of these roving staff. It should a prerequisite for caring for people with life-threatening diseases. Notwithstanding, we would never survive without the input of these roving “bank staff and locums” because they not only make up for the ever dwindling workforce on the weekends but stand in when staff go on holiday. Support from the weekday staff may help bridge this knowledge gap if their presence on the weekends can become more proportionate. With that said, sadly even the familiar weekday staff fall short of these 6C standards. Unfortunately not all familiar staff meet these standard 6C’s. The nurses to me should be an embodiment of the 6C’s of true nursing. Here is my layman understanding of what the 6C’s on that wheel should mean. Hopefully I will not be far from the truth but somehow pondering their deeper meanings may help put my thoughts in perspective about the state of nursing in general. Caring for the patients means that nurses should be interested in their patients. This will help them to know and care for them adequately. This level of care proposed by the existence of the 6C’s helps nurses bond with their patients enabling them tailor the care to suit each patient. Compassion to me is another essential ingredient of nursing. A heartless person without any human feeling or sympathy has no business nursing people back to health. Communication as a requirement is quite straightforward. Nurses must be able to understand or find ways to understand the needs of the patients. They in turn must be able to explain clearly their plans to their patients or the carers. Communication also entails understanding clear plans handed down by doctors and carrying them out carefully and accordingly. Nursing will certainly be brought to a halt if this element is missing. Competence is a prerequisite of nursing. A nurse cannot be a nurse until proper schooling and acquisition of the skills required for nursing has taken place. Personally, nursing as an institution has this responsibility to the public. They ensure that the nurses in hospitals are competent before permitting them to practice. I have noticed that further training of students are carried out through hospital placements. When new nurses are licensed, they still undergo further training on the job and are initially paired up with more experienced colleagues before getting signed off for things like medicine administration, cannula handling, using of equipment and so on. This ensures that competence is not only acquired but supported. Courage is another essential element. Nurses have to undergo many scenarios on a daily basis. Some are easier than others. From wound dressings, to highly pressured resuscitation scenarios. Nurses confront humans in their most vulnerable forms for example accident victims, mental health and even death. To expect a nurse to be courageous is an understatement. Courage is the element I think that gives nurses the strength to confront the various challenges that the nursing role throws at them on a daily basis. Commitment was the last element of nursing on that poster. It means that the staff who call themselves nurses must be willing to uphold all their standards of nursing every single time both in and out of the hospital. For example you expect a nurse to be a nurse at all times. You expect that they will show care, compassion, communication competence and courage whether they are in the hospital, on the street or train. There will be committed to saving human lives and fostering public health everywhere possible. As such, nursing is an extremely demanding job both physically and psychologically. However, as with every job done daily, over time, many nurses master these skills until they become second nature. Having been through many scenarios of care delivery, I find some nurses become either “more nursey” or “totally un-nursey”. I appreciate that these are not really words but I am sure you get the point. In my personal experience, some nurses take ownership of the job. The skills and experience acquired over time make them not only excellent nurses but transform them into extremely humane individuals. For these category of nurses, when you’re in their care you can feel at home. They become the embodiment of the 6C’s of nursing. On the flip-side, the other group of nurses allow their experience of nursing turn them into ogres without any human feelings. They become like ice, disregarding every single element of their 6C’s of […]

Hospital life : The 6C’s of nursing

  Caring for a loved one can be a fulfilling experience. The prospect of being the one that another individual looks up to for partial or total support can be rewarding. However after a while the novelty wears off. Suddenly the harsh reality about the unending nature of the now burdening role hits you. It is made worse especially when the loved one shows no signs of improvement. It can be an endless pull on an individual. The sad part is that carers can hardly confront these burdensome feelings without an equal weight of guilt. Pangs of guilt weigh them down each time they confronts their feelings of internal frustration. “Why should I feel this way?”, they think. “I must be a selfish person after all I am not the one who is poorly”. At other times another line of thought springs up; “I really have no right to feel this way because I am not the one who is sick”. Most times these feelings keep cropping up in their consciousness leaving them emotionally exhausted. It can feel like being carers means that their needs cease to matter. As though the needs of carers should take a nose dive in terms of relevance. I have been privileged to meet many carers who have expressed these same feelings at different times. In my experience, I have come to appreciate that although these feelings are common they are the least expressed. Carers are each alienated in their individual worlds and the mix of individual experiences as a result of this role, helps them find ways to suppress these feelings. On a short-term basis, it may be easy to bury those feelings somewhere within the carer until the need for providing care for the loved one seizes. This works only in instances where the loved ones get better and everyone lives happily ever after. Some of us are living our new lives as carers and each time we stay hopeful about having such outcomes, a new symptom resurfaces. We are then snapped back to the reality of the long-term nature of our roles in the lives of our loved ones. Sincerely, on the outside, and honestly most days, we do not complain. We carry on happily. Our abnormal lives become normal for us. In our respective homes we raised the bar for “normal”by the number of activities we become able to juggle more easily. Some of us complete record-breaking number of tasks daily. This in itself can produces a sense of fulfilment. On darker days, we remember ourselves. We are jolted back to the reality of the implication of the sacrifices we have had to make in order to be there for our loved ones. I call those dark days because for me, on those days all I can think of are the things I have missed out on in my life by being here for my son. The things I wish I could do, the things that continue to elude me. On those days I feel overwhelmed by the fact that I cannot get back out there to do something for me. I feel so aware that my dreams are not just impossible but also not feasible. At times meeting an old friend can remind us of things we used to do. Such meetings make us unconsciously compare the success and progress of friends and family with all our inabilities. This thought process tends to produce sadness… Somewhat of a sinking feeling. A yearning for a life we cannot have for as long as we remain carers for our children or loved ones. It’s important to pull ourselves out of these lines of thought. We can learn to focus on why our current roles as parents carers are also fulfilling. For starters, who else will care better for your loved one? Isn’t it a privilege that you are available to do so? You could have been unable to for many reasons and still felt unhappy. What if you became unwell, will you not expect another loved one to care for you? There’s no use beating yourself up about being the one stuck with caring for your loved one when you can enjoy your ability to be there for them. You can use the opportunity to show that you care and to pour out your love into them. It is helpful to think about the bigger picture of your role as a parent carer. It’s all about finding that point where your needs and that of your loved one are adequately met. Your needs matter too and must never be overlooked. You will find a way to meet your needs while accommodating the needs of your child or loved one who depends totally on you. One of the reasons I find that parents carers feel very frustrated in their new role is because they miss their old lives. They miss being able to do things in the ways they were used to for the became parents carers. Suddenly their lives are not theirs any more. They live for their children and lose themselves in doing so. They lose control of their time, associations and social networks, hobbies and activities that or add to the substance of their lives. All those things give a carers life more purpose. It makes them feel like they make a difference every day. Being able to control when and how these activities take place give the person a sense of control and a feeling of responsibility. Some of these activities pay the bills, provide resources for acquiring things or adding to the substance of that person’s life. In reality these activities give substance to one’s life not because of the activities themselves but because of what we are able to achieve as a result of performing them. Your job for example can give you a sense of purpose, make you feel responsible, help you feel in control of your life only because you let it. It’s all down to […]

Hospital Life: When caring for your loved one feels a bit too much

During my recent visit to the hospital school at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), the Special Education Needs (SEN) arm of the hospital asked for my feedback on the service. You see, my son Otito was admitted there for one year before he passed away. It was a service that made an absolute difference to him. He loved school and was very fond of all his teachers. They were absolutely brilliant. Looking back, I can only be grateful for their input because they not only gave him the best time in  what became the final days of his life, but also they provided us as a family with lasting memories which we will treasure forever. They asked me to highlight areas where they did badly but sincerely, I could not find any. All I found as I took the trip down memory lane were areas that could be improved on. Many of the you here have sick children or know people who do. Some of your children use GOSH London and other hospitals. I thought that it would be a lovely idea to share the feedback here to help give everyone an idea of what to expect from a hospital school SEN service. Another objective of this article, in addition to leaving this feedback, is to also add to the visibility that you will hear me propose at the end of this article. I hope you all find it useful and also gain confidence in using this service in whichever hospital your child is admitted especially if they have Special Education Needs (SEN). So let us start with the good bits…What worked? Child-led interaction: The GOSH SEN school program was centred around my son Otito. I thought that the fact that he was allowed to dictate the pace and direction that the activities took made him feel in control. This method respected and acknowledged not only his needs as a child but gave him dignity. It saw him as a human being and not just as a statistic that needed to be ticked off the box. The result was a boost in his confidence because he felt more able to flourish in his own peculiar way without being pushed beyond his abilities.  Do I think this child-led style of interacting with him worked? Yes! and here’s why It increased his confidence: Otito was given choices of activities to choose from each time. By selecting an activity he felt in control of the space and made him feel like he took part in deciding what he wanted. The child led approach helped the teachers decide the pace and speed that the session should go by not being pushy and overbearing in delivering the session. It helped the teachers stay in control of the plan and intended outcome for the session.This in my opinion, increased his confidence and modelled good behaviour to him. It helped him build trust: It helped him build trust for his teachers. Children like Otito with special educational needs- SEN are accustomed to being interrupted for interventions as a result of their complex health needs. This means that they become very protective of their own space. The child-led style of interaction helped reassure him that his opinions were acknowledged during the learning sessions. This helped Otito build trust towards the teachers that allowed him to learn. For a child like Otito whose complex health needs challenged everyone including the teachers, it was a relief for him to be able to take sessions slowly on gloomy days and enjoy more fast-paced sessions on perkier days. I remember times when Otito became unwell during sessions and how the teachers tactfully ended the session. For Otito his response was usually a mixture of dismay and relief. It made learning fun: The child-led teaching helped my boy look forward to teaching sessions. The fact that he was kept at the heart of the flow of the lesson meant that the whole experience became less of an ordeal for him. The child led interaction helped the teachers become more sensitive and empathetic towards Otito’s needs. As a result, they were more able to identify cues and behaviours that signified engagement, distraction or disengagement during the sessions. The teachers were very innovative in their expressiveness and choice of activities meaning that sessions were absolutely fun for him. This helped the teachers form a bond with Otito. This  further improved the teaching and learning experience for both teacher and student. Tailored teaching: It was very encouraging to see that at GOSH the teaching plans were tailored to suit the specific needs of the child. How? Initial sessions were used to assess the peculiar needs of my child before determining the particular equipment or tools to suit him specifically. This assessment also acknowledged feedback from us as Otito’s main carers about his particular likes or dislikes. There was a lot of observation of my child during individual play to help the teachers familiarise themselves with him, It helped the teachers make sense of what would or wouldn’t work with him. This method of teaching struck a chord with me as I felt that Otito was respected and dignified throughout the process. It allowed his perculiarities to be taking into consideration during the process of planning, preparing and executing teaching sessions. In his case, the teachers were able to determine what worked for him (for example music toys, light up toys, cause and effect toys and sensory toys) and what did not work (for example messy play and water play). Engagement: By mirroring Otito’s preferences with their choice of tools for teaching him, they were able to tailor the teaching sessions to suit him every time. Engaging him in this way not only kept him interested for longer, but gave the teachers the chance to keep steering him towards more complicated outcomes. It gave him the chance to excel at tasks we believed were impossible. For example by using light up toys, giggly balls, cause and effect toys and sensory toys […]

Did the Hospital school make a difference to Otito at GOSH London?

Hmmm. We are having a history lesson this morning. I liked to think that I was showing my 6year old how tomatoes are sold in my motherland Nigeria (he loves hearing about Naija) when I set up this tomato stall this morning in the living room. It got us all buzzing and talking about home- our history heritage and culture of the Nigerian people (sounds like the title of my GST 101 course in Abraka Thumbs up to all the Delsuites in the house🙋‍♂️) In reality, this was for my own benefit. I bought these tomatoes in the local market “£1 a bowl”. However, for some reason, all I could think of was “abule” in Ajao estate (holla to all my estate gees🙋‍♂️) and Mile 12- the Tomato depot I used to accompany my mummy to. Good old days. As a child, I nursed many ambitions at different times. One of them was to be a tomato seller. I remember how I was always left amazed by the tomato picking, packing and shading skills some of the sellers had. Woman: buy tomarr-to buy timati Mummy: Elo ni tomato Woman: Eleyi 10naira meta 25naira Mummy: (pointing at the bigger ones and adding another pile) ati eleyi nko? Woman: hmmm, emi o ta! Meta meta 30 naira Mummy : jaale nko ( I loved the sound of that word jaale although funny enough in abraka (urhobo) we said blo👊 at this point) Woman: (nodding and looking distracted). Shey ofe ra ata rodo ? Mummy : yes (can’t remember how it sounded in Yoruba) The woman would at this point give my mum a good price. Then little me would stand waiting for this was the time when the best bit would start. The bit that made me scream to “follow”mummy to market. …. It was 1.The-nylon-bringing-out-moment followed by 2.The-packing-the-tomato-with-lightening-speed-moment then, 3.The-tying-the-bag-moment and finally 4.The-putting-it-in-my-mummy’s-bagco-super-sack-moment. As mum made to leave to find where to grind the pepper, I would linger on dreamily as I watched the woman bring out a basin of Tomatoes and start arranging new ones on the dark table in a similar way to the one I did in my picture below ready for sale. Mummy would then shout my name. Lauretta !!! (Because mummy never succumbed to calling me Laura😀) come let’s go you silly girl! Then I would be beside her wondering how the women did it? I loved it and I really wanted to sell tomatoes one day too. These women and men who sell in our markets in Nigeria are not celebrated enough. They work so hard in the scorching heat to help provide this valuable service. No matter how rich or poor we are, without them we we would not eat. Someone has to do the job and please don’t laugh too much at having this ambition. I just wish for a world where they and many others like them who sell staple foods around Nigeria especially would be looked after better. Some of my friends have done this job to survive in the past. I celebrate you. You share a piece of this history lesson that I provided to my boy today. You also have done what I never managed to achieve. Cheers to all the hardworking people out there 🍷 I forgot to say sorry to all the Yoruba people whose language I may have murdered up there….Ekepele Miss Shokunle…..in Lagbaja’s voice😀 Thank you for reading.

A history lesson for my son : Remembering the Tomato sellers

It’s a privilege to experience “misfortune”…especially as much misfortune as I have managed so far. But defining misfortune can be quite relative. What I consider it to be may not be the same for the next person and vice versa. What misfortune can bring with it is a new lens from which to view life. A lens that can easily be misplaced or sometimes lost if the only focus is the misfortunes. That lens is empowering. As a result of that misfortune, you become able to relate in a powerful way to occurrences that you would otherwise ignore, overlook or even underestimate. Acquiring this lens helps many people feel more compassionate and sensitive to the struggles of people in the most touching ways. People struggle and are seldom able to express the extent of their pain to others. It can be empowering to keep it all in have your “business” close to your chest but as the challenges pile up, they can leave you feeling overwhelmed. Challenges can also be alienating because suddenly you realise that you are only alone in the depth of knowledge and experiences you deal with daily. It’s hard to connect with others unless they can “get” what you mean when you “say” or “feel” the way you do. Don’t feel so alone because if you start to look through the empowering lens of your misfortune you will navigate through your struggles more easily. Through the lens of your pain: You see people for who they really are You suddenly filter the noise that otherwise surrounds most of us. You realise that it’s not really selfish to look out for yourself. You see that while many may like you to believe it’s selfish to look out for yourself, it is their first response to you when you need them the most. It’s not all bad though …. The lens of misfortunes helps you see the friends you otherwise overlook. The best of them are not as flashy as the clanging cymbals because they too bear or have borne a pain like you do and can relate easily with you. Turn those lemons that life gives you into healthy juices that will nourish your life by doing the best you can with the challenges you are faced with. It may be nearing the end for you but at the end always comes the start of a new chapter.  Thank you for reading Thank you for reading. You may also like to read other articles like this. They can be found here. Photo Credit: Selfie

The lens of misfortune- A blessing in disguise

It’s so beautiful to have you in my life. I was just thinking about how long I have had you in my life. It’s been my most successful and longest career. Of all the things I have got wrong and messed up sometimes, you are the one I always get right. You get me and I get you. You are the only key that can unlock my doors. You see what others don’t see on me. I can be me when I am with you. You hear what I say even before I speak. No matter how I hide you always find me. You have been with me through thick and thin. The pains and joys of life are more palatable because you are by my side. You let me shine and step back when I fall because you cushion the impact with your presence. You only want me to live free. I would never have carried out many crazy ideas if you did not believe so strongly in me. You are the most silent friend I have who speaks volumes with the depth of your patience. I envy you because you are everything I wish I could be. You have all the beauty I could only dream of. You are annoyingly handsome with the most irritatingly long eyelashes. You are as crazy as Otito was. Ever quiet and regarding people. You will never be as sweet though because you are now old meat! But you are my love. I tell you always but today I want to celebrate you. You know I hate making public declarations of my love for you but life has become so uncertain that the much we express about those we love when we feel can may be all we can give. It makes no sense writing eulogies for dead people who would never read them. I want to celebrate you because it’s important that you hear and know you are loved while you can. God bless you my darling….. Thank you Thank you for reading. You may also like to read other articles like this. They can be found here. Photo Credit: Selfie

For you…..my love.

It was magical to be able to visit the hospital again since my boy answered his call… The members of staff were as warm and welcoming as always. To me they are family and it was an absolute joy to visit them again. A whole lot had changed on the ward since the whole year that I lived there. For starters, the corridors had been given a new lease of life with a paint splash. Everywhere looked brand-new. Also some of the staff had moved on from the ward and new ones had replaced them. It was really nice to see some old faces who knew Otito again. I spent nearly an hour saying hello’s and catching up with all my hospital friends, medical staff, support staff, canteen, social workers etc. It was so uplifting. In fact, it was a strengthening experience from a grief point of view. As I walk along the corridors, I still experienced magical feelings of the memory laden foot- steps I took down the hallways. Every nook and cranny reminded me of my boy but not in a sad way. My brain was forgetting the pain that those memories once conjured. I could gradually feel my memories metamorphose from pain to fondness. It was nice to remember my boy again through the faces of the familiar staff that surrounded me on that visit. It was magical to remember him on the corridors and in his favourite places around the hospital. As I walked through the streets, I remembered him on the sidewalks, the gardens and I even attempted to look through my eyes “then”. It was incredible how in those precious moments with my son, we were both carving Indelible memories for me to hold and treasure as I was doing and hoping to always do during my visits to  the Great Ormond Street Hospital -GOSH. I knew that in time I would move on from the hospital life but it was nice to be able to enjoy and treasure those moments for as long as they lasted.  I could not see everyone but it was not surprising considering that I did not stay too long. GOSH would always be home for me because as long as the walls stood, my memories will always come to life when I walk through those great big sliding doors. So the Peter Pan magic was real for me today. Like a child I still believe in it. My boy is now flying high in a place where he would never grow old. I remain eternally grateful to all the wonderful people behind those walls at GOSH for giving me those 4 special years to share with my boy! Thank you for reading. You may also like to read other articles like this. They can be found here. Photo credit: Pixabay.

The Peter-pan Magic! – My visit to GOSH

Today I wanted to tell you about an event I attended. It was in support of  the  Learning Disability (LD)Week 2017. I was privileged to be invited to sit on a panel alongside Experts and parents to share our lived experiences in order to help health professionals appreciate the impact of the care they provide through our own eyes. It was a fantastic day at Great Ormond street Hospital London. The heat was less, allowing us to have an enjoyable session. It always feels great to come home to GOSH! Mencap– the voice of learning disability in the U.K. Supported us and it was a fantastic and empowering event to have been a part of. The need for LD nurses on the NHS cannot be over emphasised. We talked about the huge difference staff could make in transforming care for children and the families of children who walk through the hospital doors. We revealed how important it was to have someone who understand the needs of the children. Nurses in their role could also mediate on behalf of the children when their voices could not be heard as result of their Learning Disabilities. Learning disabilities limit the ability of sufferers to understand and learn. It made them appreciate things slowly but not impossibly. Parents talked about the impact of a “smile” from the staff. It helped foster the always values of the hospital. It made them feel more welcome and made an absolute difference to stressful outpatient appointments. Patient said they wished they could be acknowledged more and included when decisions about them were being made. Breaking down communication by using simpler language helps patients with learning disabilities feel included. Non-verbal does not mean that a child or young person cannot understand. Body language and tone of voice hold a strong an essential key to communicating with them. They can help non verbal children warm up! We also discussed about the difference a little patience and empathy can make in the lives of patients and their families.  It was nice to hear feedback from health professionals about the our challenges with dealing with children with learning disabilities. Notable among the feedback we received was how the “Patient passports” that provide more detailed and specific information were found to also fuel the anxiety of staff in delivering the care. Worrying about getting things wrong with these children compromised the confidence of some staff. It was reassuring for them to hear from parents how much it meant to see staff go above and beyond for their children despite their inner misgivings.  Parents were acknowledged as experts with their children by the Health Care Professionals but ultimately, the general consensus was for there to be a partnership between all parties with the child always at the centre of the decisions. This was in line with the GOSH  slogan The Child first and always. The event closed at 4pm and we all felt richer and more informed. Chapter 18 of the book “Through our eyes: what parents want for their children from health professionals” written by Jim Blair and Parents was the basis for our meeting. Jim Blair is a Consultant nurse in Learning disabilities and an Associate professor. Mary Busk, Hayley Goleniowska (Author of down side up), Simon Hawtrey-Woore, Sue Morris, Yvonne Newbold (Author of Special Parents Handbook) and Stephanie Nimmo were all contributors to the book and Experts by Parental Experience.  Photo Credit: Pixabay                 EVALUATION AND FEEDBACK FROM STAFF AFTER THE EVENT Through OUR eyes what people with learning disabilities and parents want from health professionals   The majority of staff were nurses or HCA’s others were doctors, play therapists or from facilities environment design department    How well do you feel the learning outcomes were met today? ‘Very well, much more informative than expected’ ‘The session fully met my expectations’ ‘I don’t know what the learning outcomes were’ ‘I think the session was very important. I feel I can take away new skills and knowledge and use them in my practice.’ ‘x4 Very well’ ‘Beyond expectations.’ ‘V good.’ ‘No outcomes given at start’ ‘Very well, met my learning outcomes.’ ‘ They were met well. A lot of discussion that prompted other topics to discuss.’ ‘The session has been very usful. It has provided me with the knowledge and the experts experiences was interesting.’ ‘A good start, foundation to find out more. Good patient / carer interaction., More.’ ‘Quite well, very out patient based, maybe some more ideas of facilitate nurses and teams on ward area.’ ‘A really interesting discussion and insightful to hear parent experiences.’ ‘I feel the outcome has been met and even several spots have been touched on. I belive understanding, acknowledging, confidence have been the key aspects.’   How will today’s session improve your practice? ‘To not be afraid and be more confident when dealing with patients with disabilities’ ‘I will consider the specific needs of the LD community in the design of departments’ ‘Might consider exploring idea of artist led training sessions for clinical staff around LD’ ‘it helped me to understand the concerns the people with ld have’ ‘By talking what the parent and patient needs from listening. Listening to listen not listening to speak and by working in partnership with them’ ‘x2 Greatly.’ ‘Increased awareness of specific accommodations that can be made for people with learning disabilities.’ ‘it will help me understand the struggle, stigma and fight the patient and families may have been through and how to approach and respond to them. It also has taught me not to be afraid or fear them but to smile and be confident when dealing with a child who has a learning disabilities.’ ‘See, say hello and smile.’ ‘It will make me more aware of how I communicate with patients an dtheir family. As well as how I offer care.’ ‘By treating all patients with LD the same way but ensuring communicating in the way they need to be […]

Learning Disability Week 2017 at Great Ormond Street Hospital

If you knew that you had a shorter time will you do things differently? Life can sometimes be like a football match. Not that we are all football fans but anyone who has seen a football match will agree that it can seem very life-like sometimes. Teams, usually 2 in number, get themselves set for a game with one purpose in mind: Winning! It is funny how both sides keep hoping to win while knowing that not more than one side will actually win. Even when beset with challenges and odds stacked for or against either side, their optimism does not diminish. The mix of events that occur throughout the match are as unpredictable as life itself. They are filled with ups and downs and not forgetting good or bad luck despite the quality of play executed by the teams. What this means in effect is that a deserving side can win based on their skill sets or  sometimes lose based on the mood of “mother luck”. How many times have we thought that a team had the winning ticket only for them to lose at the last minute swinging the victory to the less deserving side despite all their prowess? One other resemblance that a football match can have with life is the way the teams struggle and give the best when the the game is nearly over. This is very interesting considering the teams had all the time in the world to pull out their miracle winning trick. One wonders why most times, teams leave their best performance till late. It is said that we should save the best for the last but in football terms it seems foolish! If the last minute frantic performance put up by the struggling teams begin slightly earlier, they would not have to struggle so much. We all do this too…. We live like we would exist for ever. Procrastinating and shuffling through life. Wasting away valuable time… Time that we can spend more preciously… …Wisely… As soon as we see a date in sight… death! We gasp and begin to appreciate how much more we could have done with the time we had. Sickness, disease or a health scare can jolt our reality into focus. We become more aware of the fleetingness of life. Bucket lists become moulded to fit in all the “important” stuff. At that cliff edge of life when we are about to slip away we see clearly what is really important, Items spring into our bucket list and like our lives, the buckets lack the depth to contain all we truly desire to achieve. Life us simply too short even for those standing far from that cliff edge only they do not realise it. Just because you are healthy and not being given the sad news of impending death does not mean you are really safe from it. The only ones given the gift of finally appreciating life are those who can sniff the end drawing closer. In essence, when life is nearly over, it becomes clearer what enjoying life really means. We begin to try to make up for lost time. Suddenly life begins to be lived to the fullest. Interestingly, those clutching at the last ticks of life begin to be the ones who know how to enjoy life. They know how not to waste precious moments. Sadly, the moments become so precious because there becomes an actual struggle to fit every single activity into the short time left. It doesn’t have to be that way…. So I wonder …. What if you and I who are not in a position to feel that our time is running out began to be more conscious of the unpredictable nature of life…fleeting life? Would we do things differently? If so, it may be necessary to rethink how we are currently spending every moment of our lives…. We can make a conscious effort never to lose sight of the fact that life is too short. We are all closer to the end than we realise. Sometimes, our loved ones slip away and leave us wishing we had spent more time caring for them. Sometimes our circumstances change and we move far away rendering many chapters we currently ignore or take for granted closed. We can take advantage of every moment we have by living life to the fullest…. Live life to the fullest because no one knows the day or the hour they will go. We all may go in different ways. Death is only one way. Relocation, heartbreak, separation, divorce, ideological differences, work transfer, dream pursuits and so on. Suddenly the time we have to spend with our loved ones becomes scarce. Just because we sit around the table with our families today does not mean the headcounts will be complete next week! … Life happens… So why not savour  every present moment? Stop leaving till tomorrow what you can accomplish today. Delay can be dangerous. If you have friends, hang out! If you have family, spend more time together! Some of the most fun things you can share with family and friends  are free. The gift of your time will not even cost a dime! It does not matter how much you spend when you are with your loved one. What matters is the quality of the connection you achieve with that person in the time you share together. A fortune spent on a gift will only matter if a connection is made. You can also make the same connection if you spend time together. Let the acquisition of material wealth for presents not hinder the quality time that can otherwise be shared with loved ones. It may mean nothing if the time you share together does not translate into happiness for you both. Is there an activity you have always wished to perform? Why not stop putting it off ? Stop over analysing it and just do it! You may not have the time you have […]

What will you do when the time is up!

My son Otito was born with a metabolic condition called Propionic Acidaemia. This condition sadly compromised his body’s ability to breakdown proteins. The implication of this was that he suffered with lots of metabolic decompensations and his body easily built up toxins called Ammonia in his blood. As a result of this degenerative condition, he was developmentally behind for his age.  His social and communication skills where severely impaired and he mostly existed in a world of his own. As a result, he was subsequently diagnosed with severe autism and learning disabilities. It was a huge shock to me as his mother to accept that my son would be different from other children. I took steps to overcome this feeling by getting as much information as I could once the diagnosis was made. His consultant at the time was very kind and eager to explain the condition to me. Before long, I understood most of the implications of the condition for my child. I also learnt about ways to spot the early signs of a metabolic crisis. Sadly, detecting the early signs did not prevent the metabolic crises that he characteristically suffered. The rate at which they occurred meant that he became a very unstable child. He became frequently hospitalised to keep him safe. Unfortunately, that also meant that he spent more time in hospital than we all would have hoped. By his 3rd  year of life, he suffered  a further complication of his condition with chronic pancreatitis and became hospitalised for one year to keep him safe. During his admission, we encountered many Health Care Professionals (HCPs). These were made up of medical staff functioning in different capacities and across various disciplines within the hospital.. While they all had the sole purpose of delivering excellent healthcare to our son, it was hard to get them to understand the care he needed because his level of development impaired his ability to express these needs appropriately. As his mother, I was also his advocate. I sprang to his defence like a mother hen every time his needs were missed. It was difficult to get the staff to listen. His inability to communicate left him non-verbal. He was also unable to express his emotions appropriately. For example, his expression of pain was not by crying or screaming as characteristically normal for most children. Instead, he became more quiet, withdrawn, less mobile and inactive. This pain response was mainly interpreted as being calm but not in pain. He was also very sensitive to being touched or held. During pain episodes, this touch sensitivity always became worse. His only position of comfort was always one where he could lie curled in a foetal position. He tended to pull in his limbs and stayed in the corner of the bed grinding his teeth. It was heart breaking to see him suffer at a time when he was closest to care. I cried for him every time he pulled away. I cried for the pain he could not express. I wished more than ever that he could do the same. I could not even communicate that to him. It was a helpless situation to be in as a mother. I could not pick him up to cuddle him or comfort him either as he could not tolerate such interactions as a result of being autistic. When the pain team got involved, I was a bit hopeful. However, his scores were low on their charts. The pain charts recorded higher scores for pain based on normal responses. For example screaming, being irritable and displaying active movements especially kicking to show pain was ranked highly. Incidentally, the pain endured by most pancreatitis sufferers I had met where always likened to excruciating labour pains experienced during childbirth. It was no wonder that the HCPs only disagreed with me every time I suggested that he was having yet another bout of the pancreatitis pain cycle. They could not justify the need to give the level of pain relief I was requesting since the pain scores they charted did not support my claim However, given his status as a severely autistic child with learning disabilities it was really not far-fetched. Their lack of experience with this type of autism that could lead to such pain responses in children meant that my son was unintentionally left to suffer. I knew I had to seek help for my son but had no idea how. As time went by my son became very withdrawn. While what the health professionals saw was more of a quiet boy, what I saw was less of my child and more of a chronic patient. To them his quietness was only a confirmation that he was after all unwell. We kept hitting brick walls at every corner trying to get him the help he needed in those first few months when he was admitted. It was while out on a walk along the hospital corridor one day that I made a discovery that changed the course of my son’s care for the better. After one of my routine arguments about the need to administer more pain relief for my son, I needed a change of scenery. That was when I accidentally stumbled across a leaflet hanging casually from a rack on the wall. It revealed the information about the existence of an expert in the hospital called Jim Blair who specialised in supporting families who had children with learning disabilities (LD). He happened to be a consultant and lead nurse in this area. Surprisingly and in the most unceremonious fashion, help finally arrived when I least expected it! Jim was very helpful and approachable. I was able to discuss my concerns easily with him. It was relieving to find someone-a health professional who finally understood my son’s plight. He simply got it! The pain responses that I described to him were anything but alien. In fact he said it was quite common with children who had the level of […]

Hospital life : Getting health care right in hospitals for people with complex health needs and intellectual disability

As I was on my way out to get some food this afternoon, I saw a group of people. There were like hundreds of them walking along the corridor towards me. They appeared to be on an organised walk. What was interesting was the presence of the lady in front of the pack. She should have left them to go on their own because they simply ignored her! There was a din. Lots of chitchat going on. Suddenly the corridor leading to the hospital restaurant was like a marketplace. The people seemed to be cooing at everything they came across as they walked past. “oh this”… “oh that”….”wow this”… “wow that”! Honestly, I could not understand why they all looked so surprised. It was a hospital after all and nothing was new. It had walls, interesting pictures, a lovely ambience, clean surroundings and so on. It really had nothing inconsistent with what you would expect from a hospital especially in England. …Yet the babbling went on… The lady moderator was speaking but it seemed like the more she tried to raise her voice, the less attention she got from them. As she screamed louder, it got worse. I found the whole idea of the walk around the hospital absolutely irritating. You see, Great Ormond Street Hospital or GOSH was one of the creme de la creme in terms of paediatric medicine in the world. It was always a privilege in itself to walk along such a corridor where historical breakthroughs had been pouring since 1852 when it was established. It was a hospital whose main source of funding addition to other means of funding was made possible through charitable donations and thankfully so. The well-meaning public through various methods contributed a great deal to the fund base at GOSH. This was why from time to time one could understand why the hospital opened its doors to members of the public. It was however highly appalling to witness a near breakdown in decorum when one of such visits was allowed. I imagined that it must have been exciting day out for these people. However what they failed to bear in mind was that it was “a hospital” in the first instance.It was a place of treatment and recuperation. It is therefore expected that the serenity, calm and tranquility of the hospital must be preserved and respected by all who walk through its doors. Although it is not likely that visitors will be given a tour of the main wards, they must be made aware that parents, carers and visitors to the hospital may find all the hullabaloo disturbing. They have to be more considerate about the feelings of these main hospital users who have to use the corridors alongside organised walks such as these. Personally, as a parent, seeing the people behave in this way made me feel a bit vulnerable. It made me feel like the idea of patient-hood was being put on display and made a show of. I know it was not the intended purpose of the exercise but perhaps if the decorum and tranquillity of the hospital was not disturbed, the visits by these people would have yielded a more positive experience for hospital residents like me. On a different day and at a different time, I am sure that many parents and carers like myself may have overlooked the noise. However, the feelings of parents and carers tend to be very erratic, varied and unpredictable. The hospital walls housed people who were being pushed to the limits of their psychological strength by the sickness of their children.These category of people unlike most have had to cope with all sorts of treatments, plans and news about their children. Many were very sleep deprived while others looked forward to the corridor walks as their only time of respite. While these seem like only a few minutes of break, for these parents, they were important even for their sanity. At the end of the day, it was still sweet and appreciable to see people take time out of their own busy schedules to visit hospitals especially  paediatric ones like GOSH. This act of kindness must take into consideration the feelings of all users. This way the thoughtfulness of the well-meaning  members of the public would translate into a good experience for all concerned every time it is expressed. So next time we visit places like hospitals, care homes, hospices and so on even for the sake of charity or any other reason, it may not be such a bad idea to follow the lead of the moderator, quiet down a little, step the excitement down a notch to allow our presence not disturb the peace of the place. This way the good we intend to do will count. Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed reading this, you may also enjoy some other topics we have discussed in this series. Photo credit: Pixabay

Hospital life: When groups visit the hospital

Sometimes you cannot really predict what lies around the corner. I know it is one of those cliche’s but honestly, I literally appreciated the meaning of that statement when I stepped into the corner from the hospital today. I was just taking a stroll to clear my head when I noticed a beehive of activities brewing in the center square. Queen’s square is around the corner from the Great Ormond Street hospital and this Saturday  there was a fair. The organizers were not leaving anything to chance. They had set up the fair rather quickly. It seemed to have sprung up from out of the blues. Endless tables clustered the square. On them were so many different wares all displayed in order to sell for charity. Lovely trinkets, bangles, beads and fancy jewelries drew my attention. I do love a bit of bling.There were books, bric-a-brac and all sort of things. Some tables looked like someone’s house had been emptied out for the auction! Children ran around gaily and the face painting stand had a queue forming rapidly. There were some OAP’s{ Old Aged People} practicing their singing while others seemed to be dancing. Some people sat on the chairs while some tables at the end of the square had home-made food. The lovely smell of pastry filled the air and an interesting looking man in a red hat shook a tiny bell fiercely in his hands screaming out the next activity about to occur in the church nearby. Ding ding ding  rang his bell…. ” The ballet will be starting in five minutes” he said a bit inaudibly. I could hardly make out what he said in the din. As I stood by in the corner taking it all in, I heard a guitar being strummed. It blared through the public address system and I made my way towards the stage. The stage stood cleverly at the center of the fair. As the man strummed his guitar, suddenly a lovely dancing tune was created by his band and they all sang and played. Soon some people formed a circle before the band. It was really a happy atmosphere and so I let myself go. I let the music take me like a lover wooing his beau and in no time I responded by joining the dance. It was as fun as it was groovy! Happiness like the one I beheld on the day was contagious…. There was laughter everywhere. It did not matter what emotional baggage or problems we all had. In that moment, we were happy and that was all that mattered. So this time, something good lay around the corner from the hospital. For once it was not any bad news or event but a good piece of fun and enjoyment and the best part was that it was free!!! This piece was written as a thank you to Mary ward center who were the organisers of the Queen’s square fair. It was really fun and you made people happy that day. Many thanks to you also for reading. You may also like to read other articles like this. They can be found here. Photo credit: Pixabay.  

The Fair at Queen’s Square

Feminism should not create the yardstick by which women should express themselves. It should not make rules or tell women how to be female. It should create a platform to enable women showcase and express their diverse natures and features as women Don’t get me wrong, fashion and style are not bad in themselves. Women by their nature love to be beautifully adorned, glamorous and attractive. It gives them the boost they need when the situation warrants it. It helps them rise to the “occasion”. However, most of these adornments and practices are not natural. Many are man-made. Something that is not natural can be good for short-term, occasional use but surely not long-term daily use. That said, another concern is the risk they may impose on a woman’s mental view about herself. By adorning this fashion and styles too regularly, sometimes, the view of the person regarding their self image starts to become distorted. A new 3D image becomes projected daily through enhancements, styles and various beauty regimes until but the woman in question as well as her onlookers start to forget the original less fantastic image of the woman. It then gets to a point where the woman rejects herself, her real image… in the mirror. This problem creeps in gradually until even the woman begins to want this image to be painted on as soon as she opens her eyes to the world. Feminism means women are now free to express themselves in any way they choose. For those in the media as well as the so-called icons of feminism who project only perfect images for others to copy I ask is this truly feminism? Should feminism not also include ways to help women accept who they are? A little touch up here and there might be okay but surely a complete metamorphosis (to the extent that an un-adorned “self” becomes unrecognisable) cannot be healthy. That’s not to mention the constant blow taken by the female skin from the endless array of products which leave the woman in a vicious cycle of perfection. This is on the other hand to the delight of the capitalist who sells enough products to feed various stages in the cycle depending on the aspect of perfection or enhancement the woman chooses to fixate on. Make up, hair, skin, weight-loss, diets etc. Nobody is perfect…. At this juncture, a rather dissimilar analogy comes to mind and so, i digress but with good reason. Bad music…. I remember the case of bad music as a child. A particular song would be released by the media. The popular opinion about that song would be that it was more of a joke than a song. The initial response would be of disdain and apathy towards everything that made up the musical piece. However in no time, as the radio station carried on playing the “joke song” regardless, the opinions about the song would begin to change. Not to appoint a love but mostly to a point of tolerance. After months of airplay people although acknowledging the imperfections of the “joke song”, would begin to hear other aspects, elements and less obvious sounds in the song until it became palatable. In no time, a point would be reached when people would find themselves chanting the song. As ridiculous as this was, It was all because they became used to hearing the song. Now back to my argument…. Perhaps beauty, fashion and feminism can be treated this way. Women must not only be able to express their feminism in the way they like, but must also be empowered to resist the pressure of conforming with any set rules for female expression. Perhaps if women continue to constantly project and impose their real selves on the world and stopped succumbing to the idea of picture-perfectedness, like the music on the radio in our earlier analogy, they will become accepted for who they are. Maybe if women did not curl away at the slightest criticism of the imperfection, they will be taken more seriously. It is fair to say that people will only take us as seriously as we take ourselves. We all have to learn that completely and constant acceptability is not real. Nobody is perfect…. Not really. People tend to project aspects of themselves that are appealing to others. Nobody puts their bad foot in front first at least not knowingly. Neither the people dry their dirty linen in public. People hardly go for interviews showcasing their weaknesses while leaving the strengths at home. Therefore we are all flawed by our imperfections and made unique because they exist. If we choose to only focus on what we lack in our beauty, body, wardrobe, then we lose sight of the bigger picture. In the same way you are not only your face or your hair or your shape or your belly as you may want to believe. You are a complete package. You are a person…a woman. Be the self that makes and keeps you happy. Do not join the team natural (who do not adorn or beautify themselves even for special occasions) if you don’t want to. Stay on the team you want because you want to and not because you have been forced to by the media, people or even your demands on yourself. Remember, the real people who love you will do so unconditionally. So stay true to yourself. Thank you for reading If you enjoyed reading this article there are many others like it on this website. You can find them here. Photo credit: Pixabay

Should we all really be Feminists? (Stay true to the woman within) Part 2

Looking ahead can be impossible when you loose someone you love. I welcome you to unite your heart with mine today. We lose the ones we love in different ways. Some fall out of love with us, some abandon us and some unfortunately…die. Of all the losses, death stings the hardest because with death comes a finality. In death lies the impossibly of a reunion with the loved one at least not in this world. However, in death lies freedom. Freedom from all the limitations that life can bring. Limitations of suffering, poverty, distance , time and even … sickness. Death can conjur sad memories… only if you let it. We all experience our thoughts. If you think about something hard enough, you will feel it soon enough. When we lose someone we love, let us be comforted by the life we once shared with them. Let us experience the thoughts about the good times, the happy times, the laughter, the gains, the milestones. This is an important gift from them to us.The privilege of sharing in their joys and sufferings can not be taken away by death. Therefore no matter how death chooses to come, let us experience those thoughts. Let us realise that death is the ultimate end to the journey of all life. There are no timescales. When it’s time, it’s time. Sometimes it feels too short in our eyes but it is long enough for the deceased. “Fulfilment is not found in the number of days lived. It is found in the unquenchable joy that fills each day. Life may be short but the joy that fills each moment makes it perfect!”… Let us allow those feelings take their roots in our heart. The more you think it, the more you believe it. Let us forget the if’s, why’s and but’s that bring tears and focus on the gratitude of being part of the story of what was once the life of the one that once shared our lives. I love you all very dearly and I thank you for supporting us through this most difficult time. So I ask you “Is there any one you have lost to distance, heartbreak or quarrel?” You have the chance today to make your peace with them and be part of their story again. Don’t leave it till too late you never know what lies around the corner. Make that call you if have the time today!   Thank you for reading. Photo credit: Pixabay. You can watch the video by clicking below. Cheers

Death at my door (D.A.M.D) Part 7 Looking ahead after a loss…stay strong!

I cannot really understand what it is that some women mean when they claim to promote feminism. They base such feminist ideas on things that do anything but enable the budding female embrace her femininity. You see, unlike most females, I am personally not shaped like a bottle in figure 8. I am not the most beautiful among the bunch neither am I the fanciest. What I am is anything but perfect but then “I am me!” Just me… Should feminism encourage me to disassociate from my true self? Should it force me to disengage with the reality of the “me”I see when I stand in all my glory before a chival mirror? Should feminism make me want to begin to adopt and imbibe styles to enable me conform with the ideology of “what a woman should look like?”  To begin to look more “feminine” as some thinkers propose? Why can each female not be seen individually and celebrated without comparison? Why should much of the feminist ideologies be centred around the utopian idea of whom and what a woman should look like? Age is one thing that is seldom kind to the female species. Yet even with the foreknowledge of this never-ending disagreement between age and womankind, females still always engage in a constant battle to defy and conquer age but to no avail. The female anatomy with the passage of time finds itself mercilessly dealt with at the hands of good old age. From the sound of the whistle blowing at puberty, the body of the female begins to transform. Breasts sprout tenderly like succulent cherries while the hips and bellies curve and flatten out respectively- although not for all. Next comes the blow dealt at childbearing females who in time begin to lose the battle slowly and mostly surely. The one-time Cherry Blossom breasts begin to look down south. The flat bellies sag after doing their childbearing duties. The roundness spreads from the hips to other areas of the body. This is a sign of womanhood- femininity, once upheld and celebrated by our grand and great grandmothers. Now some feminist ideologies want to make us see these inevitable occurrences as problems. Capitalists sell the “need” for transformation and perpetual agelessness to these group of women as the final stamp/seal of approval. They make it look like every woman has to stay “pubertised” for ever. Icons of so-called feminism parade naked to show their love for the bodies and unknowingly teach our budding girls to devalue the most intricate core of femininity- nudity. Many feminists are pressured into dressing and appearing in particular ways, eating foods and making all forms of fashion statements as though deviating would be a crime. Tell me how many women like their faces in the morning? How many love their bellies and bottoms as they are? Many real-life women now spend all their psychological strength on products and lifestyle choices that are designed by the capitalists to keep them coming back for more. Ultimately enriching these merchants and seldom delivering on their body transformation promises. When will we learn as women to love ourselves as we are and stop worrying about how others view us? If a person would ignore everything about you… The full package that is you and micro analyse your face, your shape, your smile, your dress sense and so on as the basis for forming an impression about you then perhaps that person is the one with the problem not you. As much as there are things out there that enhance our looks and some might argue “self esteem” we wonder how sustainable that esteem will be in the end if it depends solely on external praise and conformity. Perhaps we need to work on ourselves more and believe in ourselves more so that other people can take us more seriously. Real females need to accept themselves for who they are. Nobody is perfect and the quest for perfection is usually futile. You can attain it, but only temporarily, the real you still resides with you and at the end of the day, it is a reality you have to still confront. One of the more difficult sexes to exist as is female because of the demands imposed on them by everyone even including women. Worse still, the highest pressure on a female comes from within the female herself. They tend to expect too much from themselves by wanting their bodies to do too much and this puts pressure on them. For example it takes nine months of pregnancy to pile up weight on most women, yet they expect to lose it in five minutes. While many magic methods to attain this are advertised, in reality, different women may or may not achieve this especially in that short time. Women are exposed to different circumstances, eating and sleeping patterns, metabolisms, geographies etc. All these play their roles in determining the success of failure of the weight loss project. Yet a typical woman will still pressure herself and asked too much of her body. To be continued… Thank you for reading If you enjoyed reading this article there are many others like it on this website. You can find them here. Photo credit: Pixabay                      

Should we all really be Feminists? (Stay true to the woman within) Part 1

Today in the house we had the privilege of receiving this message from one of you. He is very popular for his emotional write ups here at WHHQ. He is simply known as Ezimen. Well he shared a tip that we feel can help us deal with one of the most popularly unresolved feelings we experience quite frequently as individuals- anger. Anger can be triggered in nearly all types of relationships. It can lead to breakups whether justified or not. When I asked him what his best tip for anger management was he said “communication”. In his own words “Communication is very important and it’s the only way to manage anger without committing a sin”. I also asked him about how one can break the communication barrier when emotions are very high. Interestingly his response was “by writing”. “A simple note, text or write up can soothe an angry person”. Words have the power of healing and mending things once applied correctly. The media used to express words does not diminish its restorative ability. By words, we can properly communicate our otherwise misunderstood feelings. It doesn’t matter if the words come through your voice, pen or fingers (via texting). Below is a sample of one of such heartfelt apologies as written by Ezimen himself: I did not deal with my anger properly, I was sulking instead of dealing with my anger about what happened. I let my pride get in the way. Normally, I would have managed the situation better but I allowed myself dwell on the feeling. It spiralled out of control. Since we are bound to hurt each other from time to time perhaps next time we can agree on how best to deal with situations like these. We spoke yesterday and apologised to each other – I like that. We can build on that and try not to hold things against each other. I was sulking and I know you didn’t like that. I was hurt because of my pride and anger. So can we talk about things that we disagree on when we feel less angry? I apologise – do forgive. Thank you Ezimen for your advice. Thanks also for stopping by. Here at Whispering Hope we are committed to supporting aspiring writers. If you also have something you will like to express then do contact us. Have a lovely day guys! Thanks for reading You may also like others from this series About the author : Ezimen is a professional in the daytime. He loves writing, travelling and having fun! Do you know that you can now submit a post like this? To find out how, click here. Perhaps you fancy reading from others in the community? Find other articles here. Thank you Photo credit : Pixabay

You can write to say sorry… By Ezimen

Him: It kills me to write this to you but I have to be in touch with reality. The truth is, affections are mostly never enough for a healthy relationship. We have to constantly work to build what people may perceive as a perfect relationship. Ours is one that is drifting at the moment like a floater on water. I can’t start to explain how difficult it is for me to not see you as often I want to and I know you feel that way too. While I admit that I am a sucker for attention,  I also want to dote and cater to your every need. The way our relationship is currently going, I can’t share your excitements and disappointments on a daily basis. Sadly, there is only so much technology can. I will not blame you if you think I am giving up on us before really trying. However, you will agree with me that we are both at phases in our lives that cannot be uprooted and changed completely. How can I ask you to leave your current identity just to be in the same city as me? This is particularly difficult because we have history … beautiful history. I am taking a closer look at our relationship and feel that I have to be as practical and fair as I am emotional. That is because I respect you too much to give a half effort at this. Instead, I am asking that we build a friendship that would transcend time and space to enable us get settled with the new roles in our individual lives. We must do this without dragging all the uncertainty that characterises our relationship into this narrative. Trust me when I say that I know how you will feel after reading this. I feel that letting it go on for too long would only cause both of us more pain. I have and would always be crazy about you. I am now left with the dream about how actually spending my waking moments with you would have been. I am now only left with memories of how I used to actually share my fears with you,  goof around with you and just be with you as I know how to. I have so much yet to do in my life and it would be unfair to ask you to stand by my side all through considering the place I am right now in my life. I am battling to convince myself that I am capable of achieving my every dream. I don’t want to lose you, yet I know I have to let you go so that  you can find true happiness with someone who would recognise all he has been searching for in you. You deserve a place in the heart of a man that would live his life with a sole purpose of giving you the best always. You deserve to be treated like a queen, loved like a sister and cherished like a treasure.   Her: The fact that you conceived the idea of having me fulfil another man’s desires makes me wonder if you truly treasure me as you say. You have left me shattered into a million pieces with your words. I will break along with my heart if you let me go. There will not really be any reason to carry on aspiring and trying to be all you think I desire to be if you are not here right next to me to share it with. I dream because you dreamt first. I aspire because you showed me the way. You have been my hero since you became mine and so I have allowed myself take my lead from you. What makes you believe that the answer to the question that has not been pronounced is no. The worst judgement a man can face is one for which he was never allowed to stand accused. It would have been my decision and not yours if ever it was brought to my knowledge. You have not asked and so you cannot be sure about how I will answer. Each word of your letter although heartfelt stabbed me as I blinked away tears. The tears were not because of your rejection but of the fact that you belittled what we have. Is our love so weak that it cannot withstand the storm? Is our ambition so strong that we will forgo the love we share? What will be the use if we become all we ever want to be without the very other half to share it with. I will rather a million years in your arms than a million dollars in my account. I will rather take the fall than to be a thousand miles apart from you. I grieve the love we shared because I too have begun to wonder if it was real? That you can give up on our love because of all you want to be makes me wonder now where I truly reside on your scale of importance. It went without saying when you got transferred and progressed in your career that something had to give. At no point did I envisage that I was to be the sacrificial lamb for your success. How you can bear the thought that I would prefer to be with another makes me wonder what you think I meant when I told you that I loved you more than anything in the world. My bags were packed the moment your news came. I was going to surprise you with the news that I had been given the go ahead to set up shop in the town you now call home. As I read your letter today I was so broken that I unpacked my bag. The realisation that if it were I who had to relocate you would choose your career over me is a heavy blow that I cannot recover from easily. I am not sure I can undo my relocation to the place right next to you because it has now been signed and sealed. What I can tell you for nothing is that this […]

Letters for her…by Ezimen

Today on the D.A.M.D series, there is a bit of a twist I must say. Did you notice something different about the title today?  I omitted my usual “Musings of a grieving parent” caption. You did? Well done!!!  It is with good reason though. Today, the piece is about a grieving parent but not my muse. It is a poem sent in to me by a very special friend Agatha. I have know her for the type of short while that feels like ages. If you have ever met someone who fills your life with joy and the beauty of her intelligence, then you have a friend like the one I bagged in Agatha. She plaits words and has a distinct voice that pierces through her work. I find myself  feeling very excited every time I read from her. Special thanks to you her for this lovely poem. I am really touched by the words and the web of emotions that I continue to experience overtime I read it. She has a fantastic blog where she shares her special romance with the webs she alone can twist with words. Please make sure that you can check it out here. Its called Black girl wanderlust.  I hope you enjoy it too. The beauty of poetry is the way its meaning transcends all intention. Enjoy! Now. There is a boy-sized hole in her heart That is the twin of the child-sized pain sitting In the pit of her belly. In the pit of her belly Where he first resided before he was Where his sinews were joined with bone And flesh was wrapped around his awesomeness. Now it is an empty room Where the fire of his smile has gone out And the ghosts of his memories flit around in the shadow. II That slight quaver you hear in her voice – No, that is not the sound of shattering glass Nor the hint of quiet desperation as it seeps Through a tightly woven mask of placid acceptance This – this here is the sound of a willow; supple Swaying gently in buffeting winds Safe in the knowledge that though this river swelled, Swelled and burst its banks Though its raging waters lap at her roots like tongues of fire She will not be swept away. They hold firm, her roots; Buried deep in a nest of love   Thank you for reading. You may also like to read other articles like this. They can be found here. Photo Credit: Pixabay.

Death at my door D.A.M.D Part 6 A Poem – By Agatha (Poet and scholar)

  So here is this seemingly innocent dude. He believed in “love and living happily ever after”. Once in his life he found the one. Little did he know that he was about to be introduced into a world of heartbreak, deceit, lust and sex. In fairness to him, he kept striving to find the one as he had always pictured (oh yes… guys do that too!) but he kept giving love. Life kept taking from him and giving him nothing in return. A series of events had redefined this young lad and built him to be who he was- someone who had fallen out of love with LOVE. Here is strike one – Guy meets girl, and for the purpose of clarity we shall call the beautiful lady Sharon and the guy Zuchi. Sharon was a goddess; she was so pretty that it scared him. They both met at a matriculation event where he got introduced to her by his sister as her course mate. From that moment he could barely take his eyes off her. Zuchi made small talk and found out that she was also funny and smart. The day went on better than he had hoped. Sadly like every good thing that comes to an end, so did the day! He wondered if knowing Sharon should end with the day but decided against it. He realised that if he played his cards right, then it could be the start of something beautiful. Sharon began to make her way home. As she started to leave he reached for her hand. He looked down at her and asked if he could see her again. She said she was going to be busy over the next couple of weeks and so could not assure him of her availability. Well at least, it was not a no! Therefore, he settled for her number. The next couple of weeks and months were blissful. They spent most of the time talking and texting non-stop on the phone. He tried to arrange a proper date but that didn’t happen as quickly as he had hoped. School was in full swing and both parties got busy with their respective schedules.  One evening, Zuchi decided to find time to visit her at her hostel. That was the best decision. It became easier for them to see each other more often. They always met up after classes and just talked. At other times they took walks, sometimes they even ate together. They just enjoyed each other’s company. He got a little carried away with their arrangement thinking that all he needed to do was profess his love for her and she would be his forever. Luckily, he came up with a plan to tell her exactly how he felt about on Valentine’s Day. Zuchi got the perfect gift and headed to Sharon’s hostel to unburden his heart. He could finally get the woman he had always wanted to call his. When he got there he met two dudes already there to see her. Zuchi was surprised because he had informed Sharon the day before that he was coming to spend the day with her and she had agreed. He didn’t mind though as he acknowledged the guys’ presence. He went in to greet Sharon with a peck but she ducked and opted instead for a side hug. At that moment he began to reassess the scenario he had walked into. Zuchi kept telling himself that he was over analysing it all. He spent the next half hour trying to make conversation with her but she seemed to split her attention seamlessly amongst her three guests. After a while, Zuchi just decided to end the most awkward experience he had ever been in. He reached into his pocket brought out his gift and gave it to her. She collected it from him and smiled. She mouthed the words “happy Valentine’s  Day dear”,  and then Zuchi left. Zuchi left the room thinking and contemplating every second he had just spent in her hostel. He told himself that he would get another opportunity to tell her that he was in love with her. That night he decided to tell her everything. He couldn’t wait till the next time they were together. It was 9.59 pm when he left his room.  He headed straight to Sharon’s. All through the journey, he kept rehearsing his lines and trying make them as smooth as ever. In reality, he didn’t care too much about the delivery. All he hoped for was the courage to say all he had to say. He had held back his feelings every minute and every second he was with her. Zuchi got to Sharon’s door but hesitated for a second or two. He could hear Coldplay’s “In my place” playing lightly in the background. “Yes, the stars are aligning for this” he thought to himself. The mood was definitely right for him to pour his heart out to her. With a deep breath he knocked on the door. “oh!!!!!! Bimpe don’t come back here to ask for anything again”, Sharon barked. Bimpe was Sharon’s nosey neighbour who was always borrowing one thing or the other even up to food items. Sharon opened the door with a frown that quickly turned into shock as soon as she realised that it wasn’t Bimpe at the door. She looked straight at him and started shaking uncontrollably. He moved to hold the shaking arm with which she held the door. Zuchi was also trying to understand her reaction to seeing him. She looked like she had seen a ghost. He tried to go in but she didn’t move. She stood firm, blocking him with the door slightly open now as he held her arm. Zuchi then opened the door wide so he could hold her as she seemed like she was about to completely fall off balance. She was muttering stuff he couldn’t understand. In the dim light he could see a […]

Falling out of love…with love. By Ezimen

The Journey There are times I think to myself ‘will I ever be finished?’ I want and plan to do so many things, some I have accomplished others remain elusive yet I keep striving to be what I think I can be, where I think I ought to be. It is a constant battle convincing myself that I am making progress, somedays it is slow, sometimes no forward steps at all and I begin to question myself, am I expecting too much from myself? Are my goals unrealistic? Is it possible to achieve everything I have set out to do? Is success meant to determine my worth? Does one stop or keep pushing in the face of failure. These are a few of the concerns of the average person I on the other hand, have felt this way for a long time. During times of success, you ride high on the wave of self-accomplishment and expect every area of your life to at least be this successful and then one disappointment brings your world crashing down, back to the harsh reality that it is not always rosy. Life has its crazy way of halting you when you have a spring in your step on your way to conquer the world, when you are ahead and ready to make history by breaking already set standards. Life will make you acknowledge that you are not always in control, you can plan all you want, execute as ruthlessly as possible and yet your outcome can still fall short of 100 percent. This is not to say that you should give up rather you suck it up and continue striving to maintain and even surpass previous performances. Last year was one of those years, many projects started and some of them not turning out to be as successful as I had hoped. I felt down for a while but as always, I found a way to bounce back and keep working to improve results and to accomplish set out targets. The new year is here ripe with new opportunities, expectations, old and new projects to complete or begin. It would be advisable to hit the ground running but most importantly don’t start your year without a masterplan. Take time to reflect, see where you are now, appreciate your journey because that is the best way to look at it, ‘a journey’. See how far you have come and how much more effort is required to see you to the finish line. Here are some tips to improve your productivity this year; Stay focused, don’t let the noise in. it is a very noisy world we live in but you must be able to filter it all. Be in your own space always. choose your goal and break it down into smaller manageable tasks. Yes, you want to walk on the moon this year, it may seem daunting or even impossible but if you start chipping off at that massive rock little by little you would make a lot of progress eventually. monitor your progress regularly and adjust if necessary. Remember to be flexible in your approach. seek information everywhere you are, always strive to find something new that you didn’t know about. This is the only way you keep growing by learning as you go. If you apply these tips and the many more you can come up with, there is certainly no limit to what you can achieve this year and in the future. I am here, not where I was last year, not where I want to be yet but HERE and I would enjoy the journey and I am proud of my progress, you should be too. You may also like others from this series About the author : Ezimen is a professional in the daytime. He loves writing, travelling and having fun! Do you know that you can now submit a post like this? To find out how, click here. Perhaps you fancy reading from others in the community? Find other articles here. Thank you Photo credit : Pixabay

The Journey …by Ezimen

This series was created to share with our readers the thoughts and emotions of a grieving parent dealing with the monumental tragedy of losing a child. Enjoy! TOO SOON TO MOVE ON I woke up this morning feeling like I could take on the world…. However, somewhere along the line, as the day went along, I soon lost all my mojo, All I really wanted was to just have an early night. The problem though, was that it was just noon and nowhere near bedtime. That was how it felt sometimes… on days when I entered grieve mode. Personally, the weekends are the hardest for me. Weekends used to be the highlight of the week for my family until a few weeks ago when Fred decided it was time to begin his exit from this planet. It was the one time all the boys used be together. I remember fond memories with all of us in the little room that was Fred’s cubicle on the hospital ward. Fred, darling Fred… without a care in the world. Mark?  …he would attend the activity centre where he loved to play. Karl and I? …we mostly watched movies to pass the time. We later converged before the end of the day to take Fred on walks as soon as the nurses thought he could be taken out for the day. I honestly would not have done anything differently about our family time. It was so ordinary, yet so special. Now since he passed, the weekends have become quieter. No stressful trips to London. No looking for what to entertain the boys with. No changing diapers. No listening to Fred’s music for the umpteenth time….No stress! That is good right? Well, that was our normal, our routine and “our thing”. This new normal was something I had desired for so long and had given up on ever experiencing. This new normal feels strange without Fred in it. I still feel so apprehensive about settling back into normalcy. I feel like it’s too good to be true. I know that it isn’t and I am teaching myself to relax more. I am trying to unlearn having to wake up constantly to do Fred related chores- diapers, medicines, feeds, safety… I am trying to unlearn being on alert every minute. There are so many normal things that have become strange to me now, but… I am taking baby steps trying to learn to be normal again. Some friends have been asking me “what next?” …. As a matter of fact, make that … everyone asking me and being on my case! I know they mean well and I probably need the nudge but it feels so wrong to treat my Fred…my pain… like a chapter in a book that should be snapped shut. Well I don’t want to. I want to linger on…fiddling with that chapter. I know I shouldn’t but it seems so disloyal to let go and simply…move on as all propose. Did he mean so little that I should move on so easily?The ripples from the blow life dealt me when she decided in her infinite wisdom to let Fred slip away are still so profound that they are still spreading through my every vein… my every heartbeat… my every step. All I want is to savour and hold on to it for that bit longer because they are all I now have left… I know I should be thinking about what my next move should be in this new normal. However, somewhere in my head, I think it is too soon. It just seems so unfair after all the special times we shared with our son that we would just move on so easily and so quickly. I am trying to clutch at them. Sadly as much as I would like to stay melancholy, my brain is moving on faster than I would want it to. That too is a good thing as well right? I have found sleep to be my trusty companion. It helps get me well rested and more refreshed to take on each day. It is just that the weekends are so quiet…. I am going to talk to Karl about this today. I will find out if he is experiencing these emotions too. You never know. Do they not say a problem shared is halved? Perhaps we can find new ways to fill up the silence that is quickly filling up our weekends. The weather is getting warmer too, so perhaps we could even go out on our family walks again. Find new ground because I am not sure that we can possibly pick up from where we left off even if we tried. So if you are out there, trying to cope with the devastating loss of a loved one, I want you to know that we can all get through this! Thank you for reading

Death at my door D.A.M.D (Musings of a grieving parent) Part 5 – TOO SOON TO MOVE ON

Having a sick child may mean that you have to accept many bitter pills concerning your child. One of such bitter pills is your child’s development. Every parent who has a child knows that one of the joys of parenthood is witnessing the attainment of various milestones by their child. It seems like the most natural thing to expect from a growing child. The beauty of beholding the newborn and watching them blossom as the months go by creates lasting memories that parents capture, share and treasure. Unfortunately, the incidence of sickness means that some families are robbed of this . It is a devastating blow for all parents in this category. From new parents who never get to experience these emotions to experienced parents who experience a certain kind of grief for their child. The existence of other children earlier born in the home means that there is a constant unconscious tendency to compare the inabilities of the sick child against the abilities of other existing siblings. Though not deliberate, this mental exercise can leave the carer in a state of grief and helplessness. For the new parent, this blissful ignorance is taken for granted. One of the impacts of lots of hospitalisation early in a child’s life is that the child misses the opportunity to experience the freedom of trial and error offered to them by being able to roam freely in their natural habitat- home. Children in hospital find themselves confined to beds, cots, playrooms and generally- four walls. This affects all children in different ways irrespective of their physical abilities. Even where physically able to explore, the restrictions imposed on them may be the only way to safely administer all that they require to be nursed back to health. For the more delicate and less able children, these restrictionss and their physical inability to explore their surroundings further compound the issues affecting their development. Thankfully not all children with life long illnesses have to remain hospitalised. Some recover as they grow while others are managed at home with medication, care and experience. Irrespective of the category Sick children later fall into, the long stays in hospital take their toll on early development. Some escape with mild delays that leave them playing catch up with their peers while others remain severely delayed. Speech delays, movement delays, feeding delays, social and communication delays are not uncommon. It is therefore important as a parent carer to be prepared in terms of your expectation from your sick child. While parent carers seldom admit that they set high expectations for their sick children, their sadness at their children’s inabilities can be interpreted as such. Here are a few strategies that a Parent carer might find useful in helping them deal with their feelings of sadness and helplessness concerning their child’s development; Give your child time : As highlighted earlier, children require time to recover from the effects of frequent hospitalisation early in life. Even older children who become unwell and needing frequent hospitalisation also suffer from these same effects. They deal with feelings of shock and uncertainty about the future. They also have little understanding about the effects of the new diagnosis on their lives. Parent carers need to give enough time for things to settle after their sick children are discharged for some of the effects of hospital long stays to wear off. For example A recuperating child who may be finding it difficult to settle back into routines at home may be seen as becoming difficult. Parents and carers also need to give themselves time to understand the full implications of the prognosis for their child’s future health, development and general well being. The dust always settles in the end and every family always finds a way that will work for them as long as they stay calm and patient through the whole process. Try to avoid comparison : The growth and development of a child can sometimes feel like a race. Children appear to constantly face comparisons because their levels of development seem to be constantly measured based on scales and milestones. In reality, these scales and milestones should only be guides as they are derived from averages and do not reflect the differences inherent in the vast population of children’s statistics from which they are derived. More importantly, when a child is sick or recovering, these scales should not apply. Every child is different. Even two children with the same condition may be affected differently by the illness. Therefore to cope better with the possibilities regarding a child’s development, it may be a good idea to view your child individually and measure their progress based on what they were previously able to achieve so that even the most infinitesimal progress can be celebrated. If comparisons are necessary, then they have to be fair and be from a category that the sick-child actually falls under. Do not be too hard on yourself : It is quite common as a parent to beat yourself up about everything relating to your child. This is usually more on parent carers or any parent under any form of stress as a result of the pressure imposed on them by virtue of their position as parent carers. Parent carers may experience sadness because they feel like they are constantly comparing their child one minute and not comparing them enough the next minute. These feelings are very normal. Every parent wants the best for their child. It is quite normal and natural to look up and see how we are faring against others and just because you are a parent carer, you are not exempted from this feeling. What is really not normal is for a child to be unwell and so this is why your child is falling behind. You have to come to terms with this in your own time and at your own pace. While getting to the point of understanding your child, try not to spend most of the time beating […]

Hospital life : Worried about your child’s development

This series was created to share with our readers the thoughts and emotions of a grieving parent dealing with the monumental tragedy of losing a child. Enjoy! THE SPRING CLEAN Our spring clean this year was long overdue and today we decided to start with a clean up of all our phones and devices. The main reason for this as the primary starting point was that unlike other areas that needed a proper clear-out in our lives- given the events of the last few weeks, our devices were the most volatile and dis-organised. We had many pictures and videos which had suddenly evolved from being mere captured moments to becoming treasured moments. The demise of our son two months earlier, meant that he stopped being captured in our moments from then on. Our devices unfortunately were subject to loss or damage. We had to hold on to every memory we could milk off them. There seemed to be a sense of urgency in carrying out the clear-out although I honestly could not tell why. Although having the memories stored in this way kept them to hand, they unfortunately also made us stumble into our son’s videos or pictures very suddenly. Such sudden appearances of his images were sometimes welcomed and comforting but at other times they were very upsetting depending on the state of mind we were in. It became necessary to keep them safe elsewhere. That way we could reach them when we felt readier to confront them. It also had another alluring advantage of freeing up the space in our devices thus creating room for us to capture even more memories as life sadly went on. Interestingly, something happened as we sorted through our devices. Our emotions swung into overdrive. What we did not bargain for were the surge of emotions that came flooding out as we sorted through each memory that each image or video we came across pulled into our consciousness. What started off as an innocent exercise began turning into a gruelling experience for us all. In no time we were in bits. We thought we were doing well and feeling strong emotionally since our loss or why else would we have felt courageous enough to begin this exercise? Each memory seemed to stick us right into a lane in our memories where we stood watching each event depicted by the capture photograph or video unfolding. We wished we recorded each event more or better still that we started the recording earlier. We filled in all the blanks in our minds as we relived each moment with our late son in those photographs. We confronted the foolishness in the dreams we revisited as we remembered nursing them when those images were captured. Would that we could have known what lay just a few years, months, weeks or even days ahead from when we took those snapshots! Our  activity today made me feel like a child pulling at scabs, fascinated by their appearance and yet not knowing the pain that lay ahead after pulling sweetly at it. The allure of curiosity overshadowing all common sense. I wondered if there was even any wisdom in capturing so many images as one walked through life. I questioned the sense in storing them. I missed the power of depending on only the mind to recall memories as was quite customary before all this technology. A time when memories in our hearts faded away with the passage of time until they lost their potency as painful reminders and reduced to just a dull ache. I toyed with the idea of deleting them all but I knew better than to make any decisions while overcome with emotion. As we all tried to get through each last image, I could see us all crumbling but pulling each other along as we talked through the different emotions we were going through. My little strong son Mark said he wished his late brother Fred could visit us sometimes. He made this painful wish in his usual innocent way. My broken heart ground to a pulp as I explained the impossibility of his simple request. He claimed to understand as he sat on my lap in silence while we all put each memory away in the file we had opened in the removable hard drive. With the last one done for the day, we heaved a sigh of relief. The dull absence of the sunshine to warm our hearts clouded up what was left of our day not only in the literal sense but in every way. Afterwards, we switched on some happier songs on the sound system to tune us out of the emotions we had just unexpectedly confronted, I saw again how we began to brighten up even without any sunshine in sight. The torch of hope was kindled again as we swayed to the beats. We knew the importance of letting life go on. One foot in front of the other, one day at a time would mean that surely one day soon the memories would not hurt so badly. We had to trust as we always did that there was nothing without reason. Our boy Fred was safe in the place where not even the pain of his disease could ever get him. So here I am standing between the isles in a shop where I came to as an excuse to get some air. I am staring blankly and wondering if I would ever open that hard drive ever again? I know I am as curious as a cat and won’t resist but that will have to be sometime in the future when I too feel far away from today, far away from the pain, far away from the emotional drain…. Thank you for your time. Hope you can join me again next time! Just so you know, there was Part 3 last week. Click here to catch up. You may also like to read other articles like this. They can […]

Death at my door D.A.M.D (Musings of a grieving parent) Part 4 – THE SPRING CLEAN

GETTING HELP – A RIGHT OR A PRIVILEGE? One of the weird things in life is the realisation that you are on your own. You see, it’s not that there are no systems in place to support people in distress and in great need. One must never lose sight of the fact that whatever situation you find yourself the problem remains YOURS. When you are not in difficulty, you find so many people pledging their undying support for you through thick and thin. At times for some who are lucky, they do get the support they need. But for others, they only get some help, no help or useless help (in essence ,not the kind of help they need!). In less developed societies people grow up with the realisation that help may not be around the corner. It is imprinted and stamped into their thinking faculty. There are no assumptions. Most people grow up with so much political and economical instability that survival of the fittest becomes the order of the day. However, in advanced societies especially here in the UK, most people grow up with the knowledge that help is always around the corner. People will help, the system will help and government even factors “help” into their plans. These helpful plans are not only made but also implemented. With all this culture of assistance, some many believe that being helped is their right and that their problems should be shared with everyone else. To them it becomes a crime if this help is not forthcoming or existent. Arguments exist about this subject matter and rightly so for various reasons. I want us to focus on the fact that whether we get help or not the difficulties we face in life remain OURS. Armed with this realisation sometimes, we can cope better with these hard times. We learn to cope in an I-have-to-come-out-stronger kind of way. Sometimes accepting the situation helps us to be better equipped especially psychologically to deal with them. It makes us more prepared to ask the right questions about our situation. Thereby leading us to solutions and strategies to help us live with or manage during the hard times. So while we may be going through a rough patch now we still have to find a way to carry on. No one can suggest or advise on how to find the best way through any challenge. However, we cannot go wrong by taking things one minute at a time, one hour at a time and one day at a time until we get to a point where we can look back and see how far we have come from the challenge. People around us can only help us temporarily or a bit long-term by setting things in motion to provide support. Unfortunately that’s all they can do. The buck still stops with us. We are still the ones who have to live with our circumstances. We have to find ways to pull ourselves up every day, forge ahead, take one small decision at a time. We also have to make sensible choices within the limits imposed on us by our circumstances. At times it is not feasible to get all the help we need. The system is not always able to provide all the support that will wipe away our difficulties. This occurs when the problems we face are either too enormous or a bit unclear. It is not still a reason to lose hope. If we cannot find the help we need, we must learn to use the help we find. Complaining less while adopting a calm disposition from the onset may avail us the opportunity to use what is available early enough to give some relief to our situation. It may be possible to access the rest of the help elsewhere. Perhaps through support groups, charities, the Internet and so on. It is a waste of energy to keep getting upset with people when all the help that can be offered has not only been offered but has also been accessed by us. It just means nothing more can be done for us. We need to start looking for other options early. If you live in the UK, you can always get assistance through various agencies set up to help people passing through difficulties. The Citizens advice bureau is a good place to start. They can signpost you to other agencies or groups that can offer support. You can access this service for free. You can also visit the government website as it is loaded with lots of information that you may find relevant. For those outside the UK, look out for agencies that provide advice and support in your country. Trusted family and friends are also a good place to start when you feel stuck. No matter your circumstance, do not lose hope. Help is never in short supply. The extent of help you get may be difficult to cover all you need. At least a little help is better than no help at all. Thank you for reading. You may also like to read other articles like this. They can be found here. Photo credit : Pixabay    


This series was created to share with our readers the thoughts and emotions of a grieving parent dealing with the monumental tragedy of losing a child. Enjoy! BACK IN TIME I keep walking… I keep taking one step after another. I keep putting one foot in front of the other. Sometimes it feels like I can feel my feet being printed in the ground as I take each step.   I walk for dear life. I walk to keep you near It’s the one thing we used to share. I can’t stop myself.   And then came a comforting thought as I walked today….   Perhaps all I need to do is retrace my footsteps. Perhaps all I need is to walk backwards. Perhaps 6 million steps back is all it will take. To get me back to the time when you were here.   I would probably need to walk back in time till I find myself … Till I find myself pushing you along the path we used to thread together. With my eyes closed I can feel your little hand in mine. I can see your big eyes looking up at me. Asking me to lead you on as only I could do.   Come along my love and I will take you to the place you loved. I will guide you to your place of freedom. The place you wanted to be all along….   Now all I have is your song. With your song I make that journey every day. With its melodious tune I am guided back to the time When you were here right next to me humming along.   Now all is quiet but right here in my heart you are never silent. I can feel your presence near. On the strings of the cords that you played. I can see the marks that your fingers made.   I want you back! O how it hurts so…. But to have you back will be to wish more pain on you. My only wish is for you to fly free. Sometimes it’s hard, most times it’s easy   To see your face in the memories we carved on still paper. Feels like my heart is being stabbed with a dagger. But catching that glimpse gives me every reason to be strong It makes me long for you but keeps my heart warm on cold nights.   How can all of life point to the exit sign? How come all we have is a box full of memories? How do you pack up a man’s life in a box? How come it all fits in even though you were larger than life?   But back in time my love is where  I know I have to go Back in time is where you live Back in time is where I go when I want to be with you Sleep sweetly my love…. Thank you for reading. Just so you know, there was Part 2 last week. Click here to catch up. You may also like to read other articles like this. They can be found here. Photo Credit: Pixabay.

Death at my door D.A.M.D (Musings of a grieving parent) Part 3 – BACK IN TIME

I have now stayed over one year in the hospital with Fred and a whole lot has happened since then. There have been tears, laughter, sadness but most importantly, hope. Just “good old hope” about positive outcomes or at least finding the positive sides to our outcomes whatever they may be. One very interesting should I say side effect of the whole hospital experience has been that I have become more “hospitaley” than I would like to admit. I can now exist in chaos; beeping machines and screaming toddlers make up the sound track of my life. I have turned into an art waiting an art. Somehow I have become less fussed about dates and postponements, they always come in the end no matter how far they are thrown. One less part is that I can now eat bad tasteless food. I can eat fast foods, bad food, good food and you would never tell from my face. My taste buds are as bad as my ears to less than desirable foods and sounds. I have also conveniently forgotten how to do house chores, live at home and be normal. Our life has been quite split into hospital and domestic. Karl handles the domestic side expertly ( and for that I feel blessed and remain thankful) while I handle the hospital side. It has been working for us. Fantastically, I must add because as “Adam Smith” said – division of labour leads to specialisation. Karl and I have become gurus in our chosen fields. Sadly the downside is that I have now honestly forgotten how to handle the domestic side. One of the mums on the ward calls it “being institutionalised”. I can still cook (that will take more than a year to get de-skilled) and that but when I say I have forgotten the domestic side, I mean, I now experience a feeling of apprehension when it is my turn to stay at home with Mark. I find I secretly can’t wait to leave. No one notices this but deep down, i know my brain will rather do what it has now become used to – cleaning beds, clearing up vomits , chanting nursery rhymes, making sure Fred is fine. It is stressful but it has become my new normal. I can’t seem to find where things are kept when I am at home. I can’t get over how much Mark has grown. He sees through our white lies (which by the way are meant to be my parent secret tools). One year is a long time in a child’s developmental clock and it seems like a shame to feel a sense of loss. There is always time to do something. Many parents with sick children especially those who have long admissions can relate with this. There are some ways to try to overcome this hurdle: Communicate: If you feel left out of the lives and routines of the family, it may be time to have this discussion with your partner or one who shares the care of your family with you. Keeping your frustrations bottled up may not allow you find solutions. It may fuel your helplessness. For those without partners or who are single parents, it may be a good time to speak with HCPs or social services. They are there to provide support and signpost you to other services that can assist you. Swapping: It may be a good idea to consider swapping. By swapping I mean allowing a partner, family member or person of trust swap places with you for a few hours or days at a time depending on what is available. No matter how little the time off is, it will still be helpful. Some local authorities provide only a few clustered hours of care depending on the family needs and what is available. Do not decline help except you are sure that it is not really suitable. My rule of thumb is to accept anything I get to enable me consider my options before declining I find it is easier than declining and later realising it may be a good idea to avoid disappointment. Maximise the quality of time spent with the rest of the family as the time at your isposl may vary and be limited, it is not such a bad idea for you to plan the activities you intend spending with your other children or family members. Remember that if you only plan to do anything, you may end up doing nothing. Also, having a plan will endear positive sentimentality towards you. It will make other family members or children feel important and cared for. The siblings of sick children normally feel neglected. Little steps towards improving the quality of the time you share with them can help foster family unity which in turn can be stress relieving for the caregiver. Don’t feel guilty: As long as you have made adequate arrangements for the care of your sick child, there is no need to feel guilty about the time you take from caring for your them. Guilt is emotionally exhausting. It also robs you off the enjoyment of the short time you have to spend with the rest of your family. It can make you appear absent minded and unhappy to be with the family. The other siblings can pick up this from you and in some cases resent you for it especially when they can compare your mood and demeanour and find a sharp contrast between your behaviour with them and the sick child. You deserve a break. Spending time with the rest of the family is good and healthy for you. It can make you happy. Happiness impacts positively on your overall well-being as a person. When your well-being is improved, you can feel refreshed and rejuvenated, becoming the best carer you can be. Make time to rest: resting can help lighten your mood and leave you feeling less stressed. Time spent with the rest of the […]

Hospital Life- The past year

Those of us who spend longer than the normal time in the hospital know that it becomes inevitable that new “weird” associations become formed. It becomes normal to be intertwined in the lives of the doctors, nurses and staff looking after your child. As much as these health professionals will prefer to keep all dealings with parents strictly professional they seldom do. Such a feat is only easily implemented and achieved with parents that embark on flying visits to the hospital with their children or loved ones. However, for the rest of us who have become co-opted into the “lifetime users’ league” (if ever we had an office) of the hospital wards, this is simply impossible. Daily we witness and are privileged to share different milestones with these health professionals. They become like family to us. Some undergo their training placements and begin being supervised. Others progress into the next level, getting signed off by using our children as learning vessels while we watch them grow in confidence. In no time, and right before our  own eyes, they become qualified doctors, nurses, healthcare assistants and so on. Similarly, sometimes we are privileged to snoop out some of the gossip. Some become married,  divorced or even pregnant. Others go on maternity leave, holidays and secondments. These various experiences bring with them different emotions that we as parents become privileged to share in mostly by virtue of our perpetual presence. We then experience some of these highs and lows with them. They in turn become our friends, standing by us emotionally when we are sad. Since our moods determine how we deal better with the challenges we face as parent carers, they make it their duty to scoop out some of our personal gossip and help us work through some of our challenges. They are happy when our children improve and shed a tear when they get worse. The funniest is the bittersweet feeling they experience when we finally get discharged. We imagine that they are sad to see us go but happy that the child is well because  they know the family will finally enjoy some stability while it lasts. On the day I wrote this article, it was the day many of the doctors finished their placements in our hospital. Many of them got transferred to other hospitals. I imagined it to be our turn to experience the same bittersweet emotions. Unfortunately, the finality of these exits unlike the type of emotions ours evoked in them brought with it a sense of quiet dimness. In our case, we were always expected to return. However, in their case, it was final. I felt truly happy and privileged to have known many of them, yet sad to see them go. It was a career growth for them and a good thing. I knew however that it was going to take me time to adjust to. My son although oblivious of these as a result of his health constraints was caught up in a net of endless cuddles and coos which he seemed to endure. He hated being smothered but on that day we made an exception and permitted a squish here and a squash there. They wished they could take him along. Clearly he had left an impression on them and hopefully his zest for life would be theirs to remember forever (especially now with his abrupt exit). As for one of his favourite nurses, her departure was especially felt by me. It was a big blow because when we started to say goodbye it was only because we thought she was off on holiday. Sadly, the cat was let out of the bag when I found  her getting extra cuddles from her colleagues. That was when I realised that her departure, like the doctors’ was final. Our sweet nurse was off to pastures new, pursuing her dream of a lifetime. She was part of the team that looked after Fred at birth when he was diagnosed. The thought of saying goodbye to her felt like a snip to the umbilical bond that I attached to her endless presence. She was meticulous, professional and had an unrivalled sense of attention to the minutest detail. It was our loss but certainly a huge gain to the new hospital. As for one of the doctors who I like to think of as Fred’s favourite in an ironical sense, he had grown to endure her endless cuddles until he began to expect them. He stroked her hair and smiled sometimes to show his approval of her. We all knew that to be a big deal in Fred’s books. It feels like the end of an era when I think of it now. Like Dorothy said in Wizard of Oz,  “people come and go so quickly here”. It is the cycle of life. Everything keeps moving. People keep coming and going in different ways. These were people who formed a big chapter in the story of our lives. It is this chapter that was forced shut by the events of the last couple of weeks. Now we have to look ahead towards meeting new people, creating new relationships, and experiencing new challenges in not only our hospital life but in our life as a whole. So here’s a big cheer to you all… Our crew! We wish you all the very best of luck for the future. May the sun always shine down with a smile for you all. Thank you for all your efforts. The battle is now over for Fred but it was a blessing to have had your input for as long as we did. Ciao! or as they say in the movies “Astada vista!”. So amidst these cheers and tears of joy I ask you … Have you ever had to say goodbye to some of those in the care team for your child or loved one? Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed reading this, you may also enjoy some other […]

Hospital life: Saying goodbye to some of your Child’s team members.

This series was created to share with our readers the thoughts and emotions of a grieving parent dealing with the monumental tragedy of losing a child. Enjoy! ACTUALLY BURYING MY SON I had times were my thoughts were marred by the inconceivable idea of committing him to earth. I thought all sorts. I had all sorts of images about the decomposing and loneliness down there in the grave. As a mum, I felt subdued, helpless and on the receiving end. That was when I decided that I had to take back control of my thoughts. I could not let them control me. I like to think that we experience our thoughts. If we begin to think there is a snake in the room, even though it is not a statement of fact, we soon begin to feel scared or unsettled. I did not want to lose control of my feelings. One of the reasons why death is scary is because unlike most experiences, there are stories about those experiences from those who have been through them that can either throw more light on them, reassure us or scare us. With their accounts, we begin to separate fact from fiction and ultimately gain more understanding about the issue. Death is one experience that by virtue of its finality remains a mystery. No one has actually come back from being dead to tell us about what it is like. There are no real tangible facts. All the facts that exist are intangible explanations that require more than the five senses to make sense of. People tend to adopt a “faith” to help make sense of it. Sadly not everyone has a faith to help.The uncertainty surrounding the death experience fuels anxiety leading to various reactions to death. Shock, fear, grief, loss, anger, confusion and the list is endless. We as humans are made to make sense of things by mirroring them with our past experiences. This helps us understand. So if I tell you that I broke my leg, you are most likely going to remember (draw on a past experience) where you either broke your leg (experienced yourself), nursed someone with a broken leg, or knew someone who broke their leg (experienced by proxy). Either way, you will tend to understand better because you have felt that sort of pain before. Unfortunately, no death experience is felt by any of us directly, it always happens to someone else. This means that we can only make sense of death by thinking about it in the way we can understand. We may worry about how the deceased feels. In my case I worried about my boy being “lonely” in his grave, I worried about his skin “decomposing” and looking horrible. I worried about him being “trapped”, not moving etc… all these are characteristics that affect people who are alive and really nothing to do with the dead. A dead person can feel nothing and therefore can sense nothing because all life is gone from the deceased. The things that lead up to death are a process that release the person into the state of being…. dead. For some the events that lead to their death are peaceful, for others they are tragic. Either way, without these processes, death will not occur. They will then stay alive, just like the rest of us who they have left behind. It is only if the deceased was alive that they would experience the feelings of pain, love, laughter, joy, sorrow, worry and so on. It is important to try to consciously stop trying to make sense of the feelings of the body of a dead person. To stop worrying about how the dead “feel”. That word “feel” is a word that only makes sense when you are “not dead”. The deceased that we think about are in essence “dead” and therefore have no need or ability to feel things. They can neither feel anything on their physical bodies like wounds or decay nor can they feel any emotions like pain or loneliness for example. I prefer to experience a feeling beyond what my senses can call factual to help release me from being imprisoned in by grief. You can think of the dead as free from pain, disease (in my son’s case), free of being limited by whatever circumstance held them down while they lived. It may help you experience happiness amidst the sorrow. It also does not make any factual sense … which is the whole idea of this line of thought. Being dead cannot make sense beyond the lifelessness of the deceased that is left behind for us to deal with. To enter into any understanding about death, we have to find that way to connect interiorly in our being either through faith or deep spiritual exercises. As this may be a feat possible for only monks and mystics, I am afraid, we may be better of leaving the dead well alone. I also saw my son one last time before he was committed to earth and although `I had built myself up for a disastrous experience, it was one of the most emancipating experiences of my life. He had began to transition into a state of oneness with Mother Earth. There was no trace of resemblance with my beautiful boy. He was simply gone! It helped me free him in my heart to be buried. You know when he initially died, he still looked so beautiful and peaceful in the chapel of rest where he lay. Somewhere in my head, it kept feeling like he would wake up. I knew he could not because he was gone but it did not stop me wishing.This increased my anxiety about having him buried. I felt a lot of comfort knowing he was in the mortuary. In my mind, I could only feel comforted that he was “asleep” in death … in that cool fridge. Sadly my emphasis in that statement was on the “asleep” not on […]

Death at my door D.A.M.D (Musings of a grieving parent) Part 2 – THE COURAGE TO SAY GOODBYE

Do you feel like you lack the punch life needs? Haha…welcome aboard! That’s what I thought when I was a little girl. I was not born strong…I am not really sure anyone was born strong to be honest. Living life is the journey that makes or breaks you. Think about it this way, you will never realise how much you have grasped a course or subject until you are tested. No matter how much you read and rehearse it, there is no simulation that can perfectly mimic the exam day. The tension and adrenaline rush,the uncertainty surrounding what the question might possibly be ….chai! Nothing prepares you for that part unless you sit the exam. In the exam hall, the panic attack can make you fail the exam not even the lack of knowledge. The beauty of that failure is that you can use it as a stepping stone for further preparation and subsequent success. That’s the opportunity that life gives us. In living life everyday, we are confronted with many situations that prepare us for many things that lie ahead in future. We may never realise all we have deposited within us until the need arises to use them. Have you ever heard yourself say this before: ” I wonder how you coped? or I am not sure I would have survived it if that happened to me?” Well if it’s any consolation, I have said that too. The thought about an event or possibility of an event that lies ahead can be more draining than the actual occurrence of the event. That is just because when the brain is not thrown into a situation, it can overthink it to a state of panic. It goes into overdrive and tends to think the worst in preparation for the event. That can leave a person totally drained and overwhelmed by an event that has not even occurred. Well the good news is that you are not alone. All I can tell you today is to be strong in your mind. Stay trusting yourself and you will not fail. If I tell you today that I trust you to smash that interview won’t you believe it? Or tell you that I trust you to stand up for yourself will you not see the sense in it? Don’t wait for anyone to tell you that because you have the ability to tell it to yourself. Just believe it…. The good thing about “believe” is that it is the main ingredient that conjures faith and strength. Remember what they say “if you think you can you can” and I say to you today : if you think you can’t you not only can’t but you loose the oomph! Is there anyone in your life or any situation bringing you down and making you feel small? Ignore it because it is not what “they” think of you that counts, it is not even what “you” think of you that counts because you are human and can get things twisted sometimes. It is what “God” thinks of you that counts. You do not even have to be religious for God to think wonderfully about you. You don’t even have to believe it either, he just does. Julia Cameron in her book “The Artist’s Way(TAW)” describes God as an acronym for Good Orderly Direction. I too see the sense in that especially for those that struggle with the God concept. If you listen to the voice within… that still small voice of reason, you will locate that Good Orderly Director that guides all of life and creativity. For me he is the King of kings, the Lord God almighty and the author and finisher of my faith. For you he may be described or named differently. There is strength deposited in you. You have the punch life needs. As you live life, let the circumstance that appears to crush you mould you into that person you will become. Ignore the urge to complain so that you will learn the lessons life is teaching you. Those lessons form the building blocks for that strength which you admire in others. I have a plan to reach out to you and guide you as life has guided and taught me to. Together, we will strengthen each other. Nobody knows it all. Feel free to leave me a comment about your thoughts. Don’t forget to share the post so that others who struggle can be reached. There is hope even as little as a whisper to be found in every situation in life. Thank you for reading. You may also like to read other articles like this. They can be found here. Photo Credit: Pixabay. You can also watch the video by clicking on the link below.

You have got the “Punch” too!!!

Some children are sick for prolonged periods, warranting the need for at least a parent, guardian or loved one to stay with them in hospital. This provides the much needed companionship, warmth and familiarity that children miss out on by being hospitalised. Hospitals across the country do a lot to support parents when their children are sick in hospital. One of such fantastic support provided is accommodation. By accommodation I don’t necessarily mean providing a place for a parent to stay outside the hospital ward. I also include the acceptance of the fact that at least one parent is allowed to sleep beside their child overnight. Usually hospitals provide beds for at least one parent beside the child on the ward .The bed can be a folding bed or sofa bed depending on what the hospital can afford. This humble boarding “accommodates” the parent right next to their child. Provisions like these seem like the logical ones for hospitals to make for parents. However, in the past this was not really the case. I was once told by an experienced and retired nurse that in the good old days (over 20 years ago now) parents were only allowed to come into hospitals for visits. As time went on, these visits led to children endlessly longing for their parents. Not long after, the whole visitation arrangements that enabled parents see and interact with their kids by visiting the wards were scrapped. This decision had far reaching effects on the children because they were left feeling sad and abandoned. Thankfully many years later, the decision to allow parents stay overnight with their sick children was made. Now parents can enjoy the privilege of being able to nurse our children back to health alongside the healthcare providers within the hospital environment. Hospitals now allow parents visit their children at anytime with at least one parent expected to stay overnight with the child where possible. Hospital admissions can be planned and unplanned. In some cases admissions may occur on an emergency basis. Emergency admissions are not pre-planned they usually occur as a result of an unexpected deterioration in the condition of the child being cared for. When this is the case, some hospitals are able to provide emergency accommodation for both parents but not usually including siblings. This mostly happens in the case of children needing intensive care. Otherwise, hospitals customarily provide accommodation for only one parent by their child’s bedside. Recently we fell into the category of parents needing emergency accommodation as a result of an interesting and somewhat unexpected reason. Otito had outgrown the baby cot provided by the hospital. We certainly could not blame a child who had stayed one whole year in the hospital for growing. As weeks turned into months, we saw this progress but could not really have a formal conversation about a transitional bed for him. There always seemed to be so much going on with his treatment medically which made this type of conversation very secondary. In the meantime, Otito decided to entertain the doctors with a very disturbing acrobatic display during the last “ward round”. As you can imagine, his doctors were in horror. In an instant, the conversation about a transitional cot for him became began. It was clear that something needed to be done to ensure his safety. Somehow, without realising it, Fred himself had given us the nudge we needed. Something was finally being done to make his sleeping arrangements safer. By morning, a very large “specialist” cot-bed became our only option. It was humongous in fact the bed looked like a cage. It was a big transparent box-like bed. It was as wide as it was high. His hands could hardly reach the top of this new cot-side. He was definitely safer in this bed and perhaps even too safe. Our joys were short live as in no time, we began to experience some slight technical issues with the new box-bed. We missed the old cot bars because we could not reach him easily in the bed. We also found that the emergency resuscitation kit was difficult to connect to him whilst in the bed, That was how huge the bed was. We also lost the space for the parent bed beside this new cot. Unlike the old baby cot which had sliding sides to carry him in and out, this new cot bed had a large door which opened outwards, needing more room to operate the bed and robbing us of the space in the already small corner, It was agreed that we needed additional accommodation to be provided for us – Otito’s parents. It would have been a bit straightforward if I was the only parent. Or if I had a female partner. I say this because the only emergency accommodation available was for women. In a place called “the mother’s unit” women were being accommodated. Men were not allowed anywhere near the unit. I had always heard of “the mother’s unit” in the hospital and automatically assumed that there was also a father’s unit. Even though I had never heard it being mentioned, I still assumed that it was because fewer fathers stayed in hospital compared to mothers. Never in my thoughts did I imagine that it had never been mentioned because it did not actually exist! In 2017 it was highly inconceivable that a provision was being made for women and not for men. In an era of equality. A time when human rights had taken centre stage. Where the adage what is good for the goose is good for the gander was seen being made apparent even when it was irrelevant. Well I found this out rather unceremoniously at the event of Fred’s growth and development. Considering all the bad news we have had to deal with in the last year, the one positive news that Otito was growing as he should, finally doing what he should naturally do without any help- growing had to be marred […]

Hospital life: Father’s needs matter

This is going to be a very interesting write up. I say interesting not because I think that its contents might interest you but because of what I am actually doing while writing. One setback a writer has is the inability to show in real time what he or she intends to describe especially when the discussion is about is something in motion at the time the writing is supposed to be taking place. What am I doing? I am trying to tell you what I am doing now.  Now….I am painting a picture of a city. Actually I am colouring it in more like! I certainly cannot be trusted to paint because I am too fidgety! Earlier…. I found myself in a shop… It was a stationary shop in town. This one was with a twist. Everything was so colourful… so beautiful. There were tons of notebooks, jotters, journals, diaries, pencils, sticky notes, pencil cases… I was spoiled for choice. It was the most beautiful stationery shop I had ever been in. There was every colour of the rainbow in that shop. I got so excited that I felt like a child again. In an instant I began missing my mom. I had that dejavu feeling-  like she was somewhere in the shop asking me to stop staring at everything. The thought made me smile because deep down inside I was happy she wasn’t there to stop me. What’s more, I had my own money to spend! Why am I telling you this? You see the feeling I was experiencing was one I liked to give myself from time to time. We all go through different forms of stress in fact who doesn’t? Stress is part and parcel of life. We all say we like to wind down sometimes. But how do we do that?  Do we perform actions that make us feel more stressed without even realising? Or do we actually find ways to wind down? I have always been the sort of person to buy myself a birthday present every year. Call me self-indulgent but I’ll tell you one thing: …“ everyone needs to be spoiled”… Waiting for someone to spoil you can be overrated. It might come with its own baggage. Who better to take you out eh? You know what you like … you know the restaurants you love to dine … you know what you love to wear … you know where to go … and so on. So you see, I was not wrong afterall… You have all the answers!!! Giving yourself a treat does not have to be expensive. I love a spot of window shopping any time any day. As the Queen of impulse buying, is my only survival strategy. Some people like to eat… Sweet chocolates biscuits you name it. Getting yourself to walk past a cake shop might be enough to add that extra spark to your day. Whether you actually buy something is up to you. Do you remember that thrill … that buzz … and that feeling of excitement you felt as a child when you were invited to one of those colourful places that made you daydream?  Well, you can still let yourself feel that buzz again even now you are grown-up. The good news is that unlike when you were a kid, there is no one stopping you from buying what you want now! So every once in awhile when life gets as stressful as we know it can get, take some time out to give yourself a treat. Finally … I have just completed that painting…sorry…colouring. The splash of colours on the paper is one of the things that always excites me. It sets my imagination ablaze. The thrill of witnessing the transformation of a white piece of paper as it turns slowly into something beautiful is what I find most elating. I feel like no matter how useless I am or  how hopeless things are, this provides a chance for me to do one thing right. Never mind the fact that my only contribution to the masterpiece is a few strokes of my colouring pencil, it is my own part and I got that right!  It passes the time and helps me feel useful. When we feel useful, then we can feel happy and glad to be alive. So even though you don’t know me and I don’t know you, we have one thing in common: we are all people trying to do the best we can with the one life we have. Life is too short not to take time out to spend time doing something for yourself. Try it today. Live free! Thank you for reading. You may also like to read other articles like this. They can be found here. Photo Credit: Pixabay.

An easier way to spoil yourself

Moving house can sometimes be an inevitable activity for a family. It is a difficult decision to take and carry out. It is hard for a family with a sick child because not only does the house “move”but even the services that support their family may have to “move” as well. The structures that have become part and parcel of the family’s coping mechanism may have to change. When there is severe illness in the home, support although readily available may be inaccessible to the family for reasons such as lack of information, time or a simple dis-interest. Over time as the family become even more pressured, they begin to become more aware of support structures and gradually access them. Accessing support requires information, time, patience and adjustment. It is hard to accept the interference of other parties in the home however well intended. Overtime, families learn that their new routine will involve accepting this well meaning “support”. The family adapts to the support they receive to the point of comfort until there exists a smooth flow of seamless support from the community. When house moves occur, some of these structures which by the way are at times tailored to suit the families peculiar needs become altered, irreplaceable or totally lost. The prospect of this change can discourage a family from taking the next step to accessing more adequate accommodation. Some families are lucky enough to find suitable housing within the same locality. For others who have to move far away, the case is totally different and adds more stress to the family setup. Changing energy suppliers and other familiar infrastructure seemed quite normal but can be very disruptive to a family with a sick child. Children may need to change schools. For siblings or children in the home this can be very traumatic. The school setting is more than a place of learning to these kids. It is a hub of stability, a safe haven. The social ties and friendships formed at school impress greatly on them emotionally and psychologically affecting their overall well-being. These ties protect their otherwise fragile and delicate emotions from the disruptions that having a sick sibling can bring to the home. School becomes the one “constant”amidst the dynamism that sums up their life. For parents who live in the same community but have moved far from the school, the commute may be too strenuous. Support exists within the community to help families through this adjustment process. The children and family practice, Contact a family, Carers UK and even the Social services can advise on issues related to home-to-school transport and volunteer school-run groups. Another aspect of moving home may involve changing the General Practice or GP surgery. The GP surgery that the family is used to can be a structure that evolves into a hub of information for the family. Many GP surgeries in addition to providing primary health care to all families act as sign-posters to other services within the locality that can support families with sick children. GPs kick-start many support and diagnostic processes by making simple referrals which help families access further help. Moving houses may mean changing surgeries. It is fine and totally normal to feel lost at the prospect of changing surgeries. However since 2015, all GP practices in England have been free to register patients outside their catchment area. Although this is totally at their discretion, it can be worth discussing your family situation with the surgery especially if you feel your child or loved one’s condition is too delicate for a new surgery to adapt to. Things are easier when discussed with the right people. So while it may be a stressful time for you, we hope that you do not feel alone at this time. Thank you for reading If you enjoyed reading this, you may also enjoy some other topics we have discussed in this series. Photo credit: Pixabay  

Hospital life : Moving home when you have a sick child

This series was created to share with our readers the thoughts and emotions of a grieving parent dealing with the monumental tragedy of losing a child. Enjoy! For the next few weeks, I have decided to pen (or type) down my feelings as I walk my way through … and hopefully …walk my way out … of the weight of the emotions that have taken up abode in my heart since my son’s demise in February this year. I, as usual, refuse to let this whole experience be the end of me… but a rebirth. I am absolutely certain that within this circumstance, there will be many lessons to learn. Hopefully many interesting emotions too! I can certainly testify to the fact that I have been swept by many so far.  I will tell you about this one that I feel I have just come through: GETTING HIS FUNERAL SERVICE DONE We had the final service in memory of our son at the St Christopher’s chapel at Great Ormond street Hospital London. It was special. After a lot of e-mails and phone calls back and forth between the chaplain and I, we pulled it off! When Fred died, I was not really sure about how the next hour would be because it hardly made any sense to me. All I knew was that I was not going to let myself worry. The worst had happened and in my mind, everything would be easier…fall into place. Nothing could possibly be worse than his death. I set out asking questions and being initiated into a new world of funerals, flowers, invitation cards, thank you cards and what have you. One by one each activity slipped into place. We were directed to the Coop funeral services by another lovely parent whose daughter had also sadly passed away. She reassured me about how personal and comforting their service was. I knew I had to contact them. Although I had been referred to many other directors locally, I could not shake off the reassurance in this woman’s voice. So I made the call one morning and booked an appointment. The atmosphere was serene and comforting when we arrived. They put me at the centre of all the discussions to my discomfort. As a woman of African origin, it was quite difficult for me to have these discussions when my husband was present. It just felt disrespectful. He was the dad too. Interestingly there was a cultural shift in my favour. My husband was too westernised to care so I ignored the discomfort and let myself enjoy being at the centre of the deliberations. It began to feel comforting that I was being indulged in a sense as the “Mother of the child”. As soon as the signatures and payments were done, the Coop funeral services took over. They handled bringing our boy back home and all I really had to do was focus on giving him the best send-off. The day of the funeral service was a day of remembrance. We had all Fred’s nursery rhymes on cue. We had no hymns per se. What we sang were two of Fred’s favourite nursery rhymes. Row your boat and Twinkle little star. We all shared fond memories of him throughout the service. His lead consultant, Ward sister, School teacher and Former PA to the consultant gave lovely tributes to my boy. There was laughter and love in that chapel that day. It was filled to capacity with all his team. It was amazing that everyone could find the time to come and I will remain eternally grateful to everyone who attended physically. Many hearts were united with us from all over the world… those who could not attend in person. I appreciate all their prayers too. It was also a memorable experience for Mark who now is left without a brother. He kept asking if he could play in the hospital Activity Centre because he had missed not being in the hospital for that reason. It was lovely that everyone who attended made the day special for us as a family. We all felt fired up with strength for the event of the following day which was the day Fred was to be committed to Mother Earth. We did not really want to invite anyone because we were very conscious of what Fred meant to everyone. He was a special cheerful boy and we worried that it would be too much emotionally for some. On that sunny Friday morning, we arrived the Cemetery all set to go on that final walk with our boy. But guess what? We met all the nurses in his Local team right there waiting to walk with us. It was amazing. His consultant was in attendance, some  representatives from GOSH, even Mark’s class teacher attended. We also had friends, Family, Fred’s school Driver, people from his school….we were blown away. Now I am sitting here this sunny Sunday afternoon thinking about how blessed I have been because of Fred. He drew all these people into my life. All this love, comfort and support network now surround me. I am blessed because he was mine. I feel honoured to have been the one who bore him. We hope to learn more about Propionic Academia because Fred once walked this earth. His life may have been short, but it was long enough for him. This is a vote of thanks to everyone who has stepped into our life in the last 4 years. We love you all. Not forgetting all of you online who have supported us through this most difficult time. We appreciate you too. Thank you for reading If you enjoyed this, you will find more articles like this here Photo credit: Pixabay  

Death at my door D.A.M.D (Musings of a grieving parent) Part 1 – THE FUNERAL SERVICE

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A good friend of mine sat across me with so much excitement in his eyes as he narrated how he landed his dream job with little or no effort on his part. He saw it as nothing short of the miracle he had been praying for. I was so happy for him that I couldn’t hold back my questions as to how and when it all happened. In that moment, all I could feel was genuine satisfaction that someone who was in a similar situation as I was had found his breakthrough, but as a human being I couldn’t help but have mixed feelings later on when I sat alone thinking about how his prayers and not mine had been answered. Selfish, right? This is the constant battle we face as human beings. The ability to be truly happy for the progress or success of others without making it about ourselves generally eludes us. I am not saying that human beings are naturally bitter. However, the act of being absolutely selfless while rejoicing with the friends or family members who have succeeded at something we have not achieved is difficult. You may have tried a number of times to perform a particular activity without a breakthrough. When you later find yourself sitting across someone who with little or no visible effort has achieved that very dream of yours will you be honestly happy for them? Do you rejoice without remembering your failures, setbacks and regrets? It is really difficult but possible. How you may ask? Well, here is how… 1)Remember that we all walk different paths in life and so you shouldn’t be comparing your successes, your failures, your pains and generally, your life to that of other people. 2)Be grateful for every situation you find yourself in so that you can use every story of success around you to fuel your hunger to achieve your dream. Do this not only because you are competing but because you truly want that job, that promotion or that marriage. Be willing to put in the extra effort required to get it. 3)Wish people nothing but the best and be sincere when rejoicing with them in their time of plenty so that when you are blessed beyond your imaginations, true and equally genuine people would surround and celebrate you. Who wouldn’t like that, I guess we all do, so be that person. 4)Do not let your current struggles leave you bitter or make you a HATER. You are bigger than your present reality. 5)Most importantly, remember that your life is a journey. So be sure to enjoy yours and celebrate your milestones. Whenever you achieve something you have worked or prayed for, look back at your mindset while you waited. If you were patient, you would find that the wait was worth it and you will truly value your accomplishment. On the other hand, if you lived in constant worry while waiting, it would be absolutely clear how unnecessary that was. Worrying about things that have not yet been attained only deprive you of happiness. All you need to do during those times is to master the art of patience. So live in the moment, be grateful and be PATIENT because that’s all you need to lead a fulfilling life. Thank you for reading. You may also like others from this series About the author : Ezimen is a professional in the daytime. He loves writing, travelling and having fun! Do you know that you can now submit a post like this? To find out how, click here. Perhaps you fancy reading from others in the community? Find other articles here. Thank you Photo credit: Pixabay

Life requires Patience…By Ezimen

Feminism should not create the yardstick by which women should express themselves. It should create a platform to enable women showcase and express their diverse natures and features as women “isms” crop up as soon as a minority or sect feel that their rights are not being adequately upheld. Their voices are either not heard or misinterpreted. I have never heard of “male-inism” to be the opposite of feminism. That’s because men by their nature feel very sure about themselves. Some of them even take it a step further by feeling that they are in full custody of self-expression. Somewhere in the history of men and women, the need for feminism came into being to uphold the rights of women. It arose to address issues concerning women. It came about to bring equality between men and women. To say to mankind “hey what is good for the goose will not kill the gander. In fact it can actually be good for the gander!” I do not think that the true purpose of feminism is to suppress man’s expression of himself. The purpose of feminism is rather to create an avenue for accommodating women’s needs. Feminism should give women a voice so they can express their views and ideas. It should make them realise that their opinions matter too in every aspect of life as do men’s. What I see sometimes is the existence of what I like to call neo-feminism. It’s like a twist to the real ideology of feminism. It is an ideology that proposes that women have now come of age and have now evolved from the position they struggled to attain-as equals with men, to a point of superiority to men and unfortunately even women who fail to imbibe their ideologies. The neo-feminist says “I am superior” and you know what, I will do all I can to prove it!” So this ideology begets a new group of women who create new norms and rules about what qualifies or disqualifies you as a feminist. They dictate these by their actions, ideologies and comments in the media. They in turn begin to feel superior to the rest of “womanity”. They do this by imposing their “perfect feminism” over women through their endless attempts at telling them what to do. They dismiss other women who do not appear to fit their mould while portraying their feminist images and incantations needlessly. They would want to fool us into regarding the for-bearers of this said feminism as archaic. Our grandmothers, great-grandmothers and ancestors in the good old days once stood disheveled as they struggled to pay their own way in a world that treated them as second class and mostly articles and properties tied to “man”-kind. Where they found jobs, they were seldom remunerated fairly or appropriately. They had no say in all matters including those that affected them directly. When they stood, they found the time to give other less privileged women a voice. They worked to include all women in their fight. They did not segregate them into pseudo-groups. When they clamoured for female emancipation during their hay days, It was with style, grace, eloquence and dignity. They were to me even more feminist than we all will ever be. They were the truly oppressed who lived in a world were women did not matter as much. Yet their unity of purposed paved the way for what we now enjoy to a large extent as equality, unity and ultimately feminism. Are they less feminist than women perpetually portrayed as feminist through their mostly material self projections in the press?   Thank you for reading. You may also like to read other articles like this. They can be found here. Photo Credit: Pixabay.

International Women’s Day : Beware of the “Neo-feminist”

WORLD BOOK DAY That was celebrated worldwide yesterday….. However, before I tell you my thoughts about it, I want to just say THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR KIND, WARM AND COMFORTING MESSAGES. So back to world book day… Little Mark and his daddy shared a book while on the train earlier in the week. In this day and age books have now taken different shapes and forms. This applies to books meant for children and adults. On that day, the book in question was an audio book called “Nuts in Space” written by Elys Dolan. The truth about books and children is that when you throw “Lauretta” into the mix, what you get is a massive mistake🙀. You won’t believe it but as much as I love reading books, I hate reading stories to children 🙈. There you have it…I said it! I just find it boring and I don’t mind admitting it. As an African parent, I can confess that I have no recollection of stories being read to me as a child. Stories were “told” to me mainly by my dad. These were very interesting stories by the way. Story telling is a very important and popular part of African culture but it usually ends there. Even in the villages and cities, people gather round to talk about their day. Visitors come to homes and bring tales with them. Stories about their experiences, other people’s stories and not forgetting “rumours”😀. I remember “tales by moonlight” on NTA network service as a child. I even remember “storyland by Jimmy Solanke”. We sat and watched-listened to them. Anyway, the culture of writing down the stories is not as popular as telling them. This is one of the reasons why many integral parts of the culture and facts about ancestry and ways are beginning to be watered down. Simply because elders die with their wisdom and knowledge leaving many guessing. Books provide an avenue for preservation of thoughts, ideas, fact or fiction. When you write something down, you trap it. You trap the thought as it is and you trap the memory created by that thought process in the pages of that book. When you are absent, a book also evolves into a tool that speaks for you. It also educates other people about the facts they contain. They create a coherence in the flow of thoughts that can then be learnt by others, built on, discarded or just kept for future generations. As an African in diaspora, I loved the book culture I met. The book culture inculcated in children from the cradle. Books here create a bonding opportunity for parents and their kids. They can help create stability in a young mind. For example the fact that the child will be read to can be the one thing they find to be constant. Books can also be comforting and soothing to a child by surrounding the child with the voice of the reader when they are being read to. So bearing these in mind, you will appreciate how lost and inadequate I felt as a mum about the whole “book project!” The good thing about confronting ones fears is that it is the first step to finding solutions. When you bury your head in the sand, you stay down but when you lift your head up, you find hope. This led me to discovering that I could use the one thing I was almost locking away from my child- Technology! The good news for parents like me in this world has been the introduction of technology. While there are many arguments for and against uniting kids with technology at an early age, I cannot really take a side. At least not today. What I can do though, is tell you about my observation : “Technology can be a saviour for mums- especially if you have been as stressed (caring for a sick child) as I have been these past couple of years. What I think can become a problem is when you let technology take over parenting. There should be some supervision and guidance in order to maximise the benefits of technology for kids. The interface that technology provides for children is not only entertaining and amazing but it is also fun! It helps create memorable dexperiences for children. What I love about it is the return patronage element it always has. Children keep asking for devices and wanting to play with them. It also holds their attention for longer than you can barely boast of with kids- including toddlers. Just as I was about to bin the silly time-consuming devices, I stopped to take a closer look at it. I examined the annoyingly obvious characteristics of technology and balanced it against my parenting inadequacies (especially my story-book- reading-hatred). What I got was a solution! So imagine carefully mixing play time and study time with some technology. What you can end up with is an engaging interaction between you, your child and the gadget. In the end, as long as you can get your child’s attention (which by the way can be a Herculean task for you the human and an “easy-peezy-lemon-squeezy” task for the device), you may actually end up teaching them some useful skills. I have learnt to use this new trusty companion to my advantage. You will be judging Mark wrongly if you saw him playing with my phone. It is the one tool that has helped him learn to read and now provides access to tons of books and educative games to help keep his little inquisitive mind fed. At last…. I can now sincerely join the world book day celebrations this year! We enjoyed many books this year. We have listened through the year to stories being read to us by different devices while all we had to do was sit back, relax and pay attention. I have not had to worry about my no 1 parenting flaw of not wanting to read to […]

World Book Day

RAINFOREST WARD It is a time in my life that I can never forget. I first walked through those doors 4 years ago when my son Otito was born. He had gone straight into coma and our world was shattered. A simple birth has turned into a nightmare. At a time when we were trying to make sense of the diagnosis, we walked into the loving and welcoming arms on rainforest ward. It’s a ward unlike any other at GOSH because I have been through many wards along the way with my boy unfortunately. There is a personal touch to the care you get on Rainforest ward. The culture and atmosphere is exemplary. The staff there are a team. There is a feeling of peaceful coexistence and healthy rivalry. Not the usual cut throat competition that is quite common in some female dominated professions. In the last year, it became my son’s home- our second home. He was looked after and loved on Rainforest ward. I often wondered if he would ever adjust to life at home after being spoiled by the nurses who loved him to bits. Now and especially at this time, I look at those doors behind me with fondness. Although he never made it back home, he was at home there. When he was there, he was less of a patient and through the year that was to be his last and in their care, we saw more of the happy little boy that he deserved to be. That gives me peace. The interesting thing about hospital life is the unintentional intertwining and inter-mingling with so many people. You learn to get along with them and adjust to all their qualms. In the end, a peaceful coexistence ensues. I remember good times and sad times in equal measure. I resist the urge to sway towards being stuck in the sad times. Instead, I deliberately swing the bias towards the happy times. Otito brought these wonderful people into my life. Had I not birthed him and nursed him through the roller coaster years, I would have remained oblivious to the reality of the wonderful team existing behind those doors. For this I am thankful. When Otito passed away, I saw all the pain and I watched the tears flow through their eyes and I felt very lucky to have them all in my life. Sharing the pain with these team of love made it easier to bear. No epistle can convey how tough the last year has been. However, in the company of the staff on the ward, I felt like they witnessed my struggle and no explanation was required. Therefore I could just get on with trying to make sense of what had unfolded. Rainforest ward was our ward. I made and formed new friendships with many parents that I can never forget. You see, there is one privilege of having a tumultuous life as I have had. You begin to see that many things are overrated. “Friendship” is one of those. Sadly, many long formed relationships fizzle to a trickle. Phone calls reduce to faded chat lines until they become history. This is usually not intentional but it happens anyway. Having a sick child can take you into a different league. You begin to have less common interests with old friends until you drift apart. Old friends cannot identify with your new reality. Trying to get their attention may keep you spinning until you are saddled with so much emotional baggage at a time when you need less stress. I had a friend once think that I was lying when I said my son was sick- again. My supposed friend in not so many words said “Like seriously, how can someone be so unwell?” before ending the statement with the usual “bless him”. On the other hand, I also experienced the helplessness from friends who would have loved to help but did not know how or were too far away. I made new friends on rainforest ward. When I did, the gap was filled. I did not mean to make them but they happened because they could feel my pain. We were in the boat together. Somehow they got it! It was a comforting relationship. We all were united in the struggle and pain we felt for our children. We were fighters and pulled one another along the way. We shared tips and tricks depending on what we had learnt. I am sitting on my sofa now missing them all. Somehow like before, I know that no matter how I try, life will happen again and the calls will fade because we are now in different worlds. We will begin to have less things in common. My day will probably begin to have different events. I may start to feel insensitive when I call to moan about my new challenges and you may start to call less because you do not want to disturb me with your Parent Caring challenges. But it doesn’t have to be that way because no matter what happens, I will always get it. If you have walked this path, you are never the same. It changes your life positively if you let it. You become more sensitive to things you never could have thought you would even notice. One of the mums gave me a life time membership of the Parent carers club. Like an invisible alumni. It was comforting because it really feels strange being “normal” again. I feel like a bit of a cheat- being relieved of my duties so suddenly! For the first time yesterday, I experienced something weird. Before I tell you what it is, I will take you down my lane of memory to help you understand why it felt wierd…. In 2012 when I watched the London 2012 opening ceremony, pregnant, I saw a display by “Drs and nurses at Great Ormond street hospital” and thought -Awwww, bless. God help “those” people. After that, […]

Rainforest Ward…Otito’s final home. (A thank you letter to all the teams that made his last year special)

If the evil one knew that killing Jesus will bring redemption he would have turned him into Methuselah and stopped his crucifixion. There is always light at the end of the tunnel. There is no mountain we cannot climb if we can only believe. Remember if you can…you can. No one has power over us except it comes from above. God is a good God and there is no evil to be found in him. His thoughts towards us are of good and never of evil. Therefore we have to put all our trust in him no matter the situation. Sometimes things go wrong but at other times they will go well. Life is like a bed of roses. Very beautiful to behold but also filled with prickly thorns. We must never claim monopoly of ill occurrences. They happen to every one- only some are visible to all while others are not so obvious. If we are better disposed, the blows life deals us will be cushioned by our inner fortitude. It is deep rooted in us but sometimes we are not aware of our strengths. Some events occur in our lives that help us access them those strengths. There is no proper certification without an exam. For those of us who are Christians, how can you really know you have faith if it is not tested? The bible called Abraham God’s friend after he abandoned himself to God’s will by sacrificing his son. He who the Lord loves he chastises. So we see Job being tried and tempted to the end because he loved God and God bragged about it. Do you love God? Can God be sure that you will continue to trust that he loves and cares for you even when things seem horrible? The trials we face in life unlock our inner strengths- but only if we let them. Remember the glass is with “half-full or half-empty” depending on how you see it. There is no right or wrong answer. As long as your answer does not draw you down and make you sad- choose it. Whichever one you choose, the quantity of water in the glass remains unaltered. I am a firm believer in God’s strength and God’s grace. I have complete confidence in his God’s divine plan. So I made a deliberate and conscious decision to make today about praising God and celebrating Fred’s life. I cannot change what has happened but I can change how I view it. I can change how I let it affect me. That gives me control. One good thing about being in control about things that happen in your life is that it helps you feel stronger. So you too may be out there feeling down – please rise up today and move on. Feeling down will not lead you anywhere but raising up your head will help you start to find the light at the end of the tunnel. Fred bore his pains gallantly. His passing is now “my pain” but in time it will not be so painful. I choose to see his passing as a way that gave him peace.God’s glory and beauty surrounded him. He inspired me as his mum with his strength -God’s strength. So joy has come in the morning. Joyful trust that this is the Lords doing. Nothing happens in this world without God allowing it to happen. No one can surprise God. I remember when Pontius Pilate got angry with Jesus for not answering his numerous questions. He said ” do you know I have power to put you in jail and release you?” Do you remember what Jesus said? I will remind you today. He said “you have no power over me except the one that comes from above”. This was a man whose life and death had been “foretold” before time began. How could any man claim power over him. God has written down all that is happening and all that will happen in your life before you were born. So let us have trust in God. I know I do try not to make my posts about my faith because I acknowledge that my followers cut across all walks of life. However at times like this… of great pain, it is impossible for me to make sense of it without holding firmly to my faith. Only the joy of the Lord can be my strength at this time. Praises to God in my native tongue: Ebubedike, okwusi ogwu. He speaks and the earth trembles. The beginning and the end I bow in submission to you o lord. I thank God for the privilege of being Fred’s mother. Praise the Lord ! Ije awele nwa’m oma (safe journey my good son), ujor atuzina i (do not be afraid) Otitodilichineke bi na enigwe (Glory be to God who lives in heaven). Igweeeeee💪💪💪💪 Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed reading this, you may also enjoy some other topics we have discussed in this series. Photo credit: Pixabay

Death at my door : Giving God all the glory for Otito’s life…

I have now stayed in the hospital for over one year with Fred and a whole lot has happened since then. There have been tears, laughter, sadness but most importantly, hope. Just good old hope about positive outcomes or at least finding the positive sides to our outcomes whatever they may be. One very interesting should I say side-effect of the whole hospital experience has been that I have become more “hospitaley” than i would like to admit. I can now exist in chaos; beeping machines and screaming toddlers make up the sound track of my life. I have turned waiting into an art. Somehow I am now less fussed about date postponements, cancelled procedures and generally people turning up late for simple conversations. I have learnt that no matter how far into the future a particular time seems, it always comes in the end. Another thing I can now interestingly do is look forward to meal times with some optimism however unpredictable the actual “plate of food” may turn out to be. I have learnt to eat and even enjoy bad tasteless food. My expectation from food has moved beyond tastefulness and presentation to just good old satisfaction! With this new focus, I have now begun to also make an art of feeding myself. All old fussy eating habits have been laid aside. I can eat fast foods, bad food, good food, smelly food, watery food, hard food (I think you get the point). I eat them without giving away the true blows dealt to my palate as they are being consumed.  My taste-buds have unfortunately become as dead as my ears to less desirable foods and sounds. The other side to  becoming “hospitaley” is that I have become a deskilled mum on the home front. It feels like I have somehow forgotten how to do house chores as happily as I used to. My brain cannot seem to settle into my normal life at home. I keep feeling I need to go back to Fred in the hospital when I am at home with Mark. Our lives have been quite split into hospital and domestic. Karl handles the domestic side expertly (and for that I feel blessed and remain thankful) . I handle the hospital side of things. It has been working for us fantastically I must add. We have proved the famous Economist “Adam Smith” right because like he proposed, division of labour has certainly led to specialization even in our home. Karl and I have become not only guru’s in our chosen fields but also feel very satisfied and settled into these roles. Sadly, the down side to this division of roles is that I have found that I do not cope very well handling the domestic side of things when I go home. It is not easier to be in the hospital either but I guess the brain just prefers doing what it has become used to. Cleaning beds, vomits, chanting nursery rhymes, being the entertainer, teacher and making sure Fred is okay is also challenging. It is stressful but it has become my new normal. I feel a sense of panic when I have to go home. I can still cook (that will take more than a year to get de-skilled) and that. However, I have noticed that I now experience some apprehension whenever it’s my turn to stay at home with Mark. I can’t seem to find where things are kept when I am at home. This makes me feel like a stranger in my own home. I can’t get over how much Mark has grown this past year and it hurts me as a mum that I have missed out a lot on this part of his life. One year is a long time in a child’s developmental clock and it seems like a shame to feel a sense of loss because I have been absent most of the time. I feel too tired to play and either want to constantly sleep or leave. No one notices this but deep down I do and it leaves me feeling sad for my son. He deserves to have me fully too and although he cannot know how I feel, I still carry on. I don’t believe that I am alone as a mum and carer. These feelings that I experience and keep safely internalised are very common amongst many parent carers. During my numerous interactions with parents around the hospitals I have been privileged to visit, this is a resounding dilemma. So as a parent carer who is already stretched by the demands of a sick child is it possible to stretch further to accommodate the demands of parenting your other children or loved ones? Honestly if you are not able to do more than you are currently doing, no one will blame you. The only thing in my experience that I find is that in the long run, you still feel cut off from the rest of the family. So why the need to find a way to address this issue? The existence of each child/children on either side of the sphere- home or hospital means that as parents we have to deliberately step out of our comfort zones. So although staying put on either side might work well for our families, we have to find a way to alternate between these roles for the sake of the children. It puts more demands on us as carers but it helps address the needs of the children. Each child in a home deserves the attention of each parent where realistically possible. We miss out on the lives of the other children if we stay put at home or in the hospital. This need to create time for other children is not only restricted to parent carers in hospital, It also extends to carers whose sick children’s demands at home make it nearly impossible to give any attention to the other children. It can be misunderstood unfortunately by […]

Hospital life : Finding the right balance when you have other children

God is good. He gave us “Otito” and he was a beautiful pearl that brightened up our lives. He was always on loan to us and so we looked after him completely. Now God has requested him back because he was too precious in his sight to overlook. He suffered so… death became the key to set him free from it all. It hurts but he is now at peace. His peace will be my peace in the end. My heart bleeds. Not because of pain but because of a different type of joy. A joyful trust that this bitter pill is good for me because my God allowed it to be. I trust his decision completely because his ways and thoughts are not like mine. If anything his thoughts for me are of good and never of evil. This blow dealt to me feels horrible but nothing happens in my life without God’s ordination. Therefore I decree today that it is the Lord’s doing it is marvellous in my sight and I will continue to praise him through the pain. It is hard now but I know it will get easier. Otito was strong amidst his adversity and so I draw from it and remain strong. Although he suffered endlessly, through it all, he managed to remain happy and filled the hospital ward that was his final home with his laughter and music. He will be greatly missed by us all especially his older brother Mark and all his friends- the devoted staff at GOSH who were devoted to him. Otito was their boy too. They loved and cared for him like their own. He was admitted Feb 2016 and remained an inpatient until he passed away on Tue 21 Feb 2017…. He will always be remembered for his singing, humming, dinosaur stumping around the ward and enjoying endless nursery rhymes with his iPad on Rainforest ward at Great Ormond Street Hospital and Children’s Charity He brought us all together for a reason and please let his passing not separate us. This changes nothing and although I have been relieved of my duties as a Parent carer, I shall not rest until I spread the word about the world I was privileged to be part of these past few years. This will be Otito’s legacy…… Thank you Photo credit: Pixabay If you enjoyed reading this, you may also enjoy some other topics we have discussed in this series. Photo credit: Pixabay

Goodbye Otito…

It was one of those evenings where I had decided to write a piece. It was turning out to be an emotional one but I could not stop myself from writing. Honestly, I was enjoying the distraction but at the same time, it was beginning to feel exhausting as my eyes were hurting and so were my wrists in short, I was just knackered. I knew I had to stop writing but my fingers just carried on pouring out my thoughts and I just continued to write with a life depending urgency. I had been through a stressful day with Fred and as always, writing was my stress relief therapy. When suddenly, tap tap tap..  I looked up and … phew! I stopped writing. I felt like the blaring speakers must feel during a power failure…relieved. It was like my writing jinx had finally been brhellos oken. It was the nurse just coming to announce to me that there was a parent carers art workshop downstairs at the activity center. Normally, I would have declined but I had to admit to myself that I needed to relax in another way. I accepted the invitation and abandoned all my writing materials. In a few minutes, I had my coat on, bag in hand, scarf on neck, sandals on feet and I was out of the ward like flash. As the lift descended, my thoughts were tilted towards the pleasures that lay ahead- colouring, painting, cutting, sticking and a bit of messy play like the kids… what could possibly go wrong? The thought of mingling with other parents all stuck in this hospital for different reasons (but seeking the fulfilment of our one elusive desire-fun!) gave me the oomph I needed to press the buzzer before me, I had a smile spread across my face when the young lady let me in. I bet she thought I was being polite. Honestly only you can tell her the real reason I could not stop smiling. “Bring on the art!” I thought ,as I walked in. So this young lady dressed in jeans, a top and black cardigan ushered me into a room with only a handful of parents. I could feel my smile begin to turn upside down but I was not going to let the poor attendance dampen my fun quest. I was greeted by the artist-in-waiting who quickly took over from the young lady. I said my hellos to everyone and sat down for the briefing being delivered by the artist. He said something about cutting ( which as you know was right up my street) and making box cards – pop-up ones (hmmm… I was not sure I liked the sound of that) but I was going to have a go anyway. It sounded easy when he described what we had to do. The other parents seemed to be Picasso’s and not even budding ones at that mind you. Their art pieces were starting to pop-up (but to be fair, they had started their work way before I walked in).  It was beginning to feel like art class. I am not sure how I felt about that. Anyway, the best thing for me to do was watch. Honestly, I was too tired and had lost ounce of competition left in me. I felt snuffed out. The events of the day had left me too exhausted to speak. I just watched and listened  to every chatter and banter. I became an on looker somewhat of a floater in this room that was not-so-filled with parents. It was fun to see them concentrating and creating art works from scraps of everything that was available from card boards to coloured paper. It was amazing and I must say relaxing. I wan in fact feeding off all their positive energy like a monster. By the time the artist came to inspect my work, I had nothing but cardboard and papers to show. He was really funny and gave me a slight nudge with his words. I started to glue something but the paper was so blank, it looked whiter than snow. In the end, I found a bowl of grapes and crisps on the side for company. At least it helped me showcase my creativity in the chewing department. It ended up being a relaxing evening. I had a nice chat, tea, crisps and company. There was also lots of colouring and creativity to brighten my evening. At least it was fun to see everyone else do something nice apart from caring for the little ones. I have added a few pics from our little parent carers art workshop for your viewing pleasure here. Hey, we might even have an exhibition soon. well done to everyone who attended including the organizers. If you are at the Great Ormomd street Hospital (GOSH) London, the Parents carers art workshop is held every last Thursday of the month at the activity center. You can find the activity center in  the Southwood building level 2 . You can join other parents and relax for a few minutes cheers! Thanks for reading. Related posts are  Boredom Busters and you can also click here for more. Photo credit: Pixabay

Hospital life : An Escape To the Arts Workshop

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She was tired…absolutely exhausted. She had a calm exterior but was screaming on the inside. She felt like running… Running very fast, very hard until her feet made a print on tarmac. She felt like flying so high until she became weightless. Light enough not to be weighed down by anything.   She was heavy and burdened. She was caged and imprisoned. But it was an imprisonment without a choice to be free. It was not for a crime or else this imprisonment would have become a form of punishment. It was an entrapment for which she was never given the chance to stand accused.   She was not given the chance to defend herself. It just happened. It felt like a lot was cast and she was the one who had the shackle slung on her neck. A burden that was immovable. Every time she tried to lay it aside she was awkwardly drawn into positions that felt worse than she could bear.   She could not breathe. She felt constricted. She could not spread out her wings because thorns circled her resting place. She could not rest because there were endless decisions to make. A moment of slumber was costlier than a tired awakening.   She was enslaved… By every breathe she drew, she paid dearly for her existence. To make her own choices and ride on the horse of destiny was to thwart her whole existence and bring it to a halt. Better not to exist fully than to exist and to lose that existence in an abrupt slash of sorts.   What was the point to her life? Vanity they said all was in the end. But vanity was still important to give value to her existence. She could not throw out or condemn all vanity. Some vanities seemed necessary while others were luxurious. They all gave meaning to her life in different ways.   Waiting was the game of the wise… Mother Earth took her time to churn out fruits at times and seasons she chose. She could not be hurried. Yet time waited for no one even her. It was the reason she was tired and weighed down.   She was jealous. Her jealousy is not of anyone in particular but in the unfairness of it all. Like a hamster in a cage, she seemed not to make a headway. She kept running, never faltering, never stumbling yet never arriving at any destination.   What she cannot stand was this fate… The endlessness pain, the enduring, the waiting, the patience. It felt so inappropriate for her because she was a hurrier. She knew she had to take what she was given. She had no choice or influence in the matter.   She was tired and wanted out. The more she moaned, the more she felt guilty. The weight of the guilt burdened her freedom. She was doomed whichever way she chose to go.   Does she sound familiar? Well that is because we meet her sometimes in different ways. Stop daring to dream.  We have to accept what we have got. When the time comes, the status quo will change. Let’s keep our eyes on the ball, things will get better someday.   Thank you for reading. Photo credit Pixabay


Hello … I just wanted to share this quick post with you today. I played a simple game but guess what? It got me thinking about life. I hope you enjoy it. So yesterday in the spirit of  boredom bursting, we decided to play “snakes and ladders” with our son Mark. I am not sure of it was a good idea but I will let you decide . He cried every time a snake bit him but soon burst into laughter every time he climbed up a ladder. He laughed happily at every other player as soon as they met the ill-snake-biting-fate but was not too happy when they ascended any ladders especially when such rises meant that he got overtaken by such a player. In no time, we began to laugh right back at him as soon as the snakes bit him which as you can imagine led to more crying. He began to see that if he wanted us to sympathise with him, he had to stop laughing at our misfortune. All in all, I think it was a good way to teach him some valuable lessons. “Snakes and ladders” is a game that feels a bit like life. You never know what lies around the corner when you step into each day…as you do on each tile, there might be a snake lying around to bring tears to your eyes. But you need to change your focus to be able to move ahead and enjoy life. Like we taught our son, focus on the ladders because snakes are inevitable. You have no control over either snake or ladder but you have control over how you let them make you feel. So here are Four valuable lessons I always take away from the game called “Snakes and Ladders”. Lesson 1. Focus on the joy that climbing up a ladder brings. Focus on the ladder that lies ahead. Ignore the snakes of sadness, deceit, sickness, poverty. Dwelling on them will not change them. They will only make us sad. Lesson 2. Do not laugh at others when they encounter their snakes. Remember- if you laugh at peoples’ misfortune there will be no one to console you in your time of sorrow. Lesson 3. Be happy when others progress. Just because they climb their ladders and overtake you, it doesn’t mean you will not succeed. Remember the sky is big enough for all the stars to shine. There will be big stars like the sun and small stars. Don’t worry about what star you are because no condition is permanent. Lesson 4. Don’t expect people to be happy or sad just because you are happy or sad. It is not a competition. Live your life. So tell me, have you played any games lately that felt a bit like life? Thanks for reading. You may also like to read other articles like this. They can be found here. Photo credit : Pixabay  

4 lessons about life from “Snakes and Ladders”- the board game

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What can one possibly do on a journey that lasts 5hours? I decided in the spirit of organisation to plan the whole trip to a “P”. Snakes and ladders✅, Word search          ✅, “I spy” tactics✅, oh…and I forgot Light refreshments✅. About 3 hours into the journey, I was exhausted. I could not sleep because unlike most people, I don’t sleep in public! Haha….only because you fart when you sleep- My husband just managed to add behind my ears. Well, such is life, we are all endowed differently and controlling wind is not one of my strong points. Anyway, we began playing games and by the time the colouring began, Mark twisted himself into knots trying to get the colours in the box. My 5yr old was frustrated. “Mum, the train keeps moving and ruining my work”, he said for the umpteenth time. It was perfect to me given the circumstances. But the little man was not having any of that. “I want it to be perfect!” he moaned. One part of me wanted to ignore him but he had said it so many times and deserved some attention- bless him. Me: it’s fine the way it is Mark Him: No mum it is not. If only the train could stop for a moment ! Me: But it won’t Him: crying Me: you have to accept that the train will keep moving at least for now and keep doing your colouring. Don’t you like to colour anymore? Him: I love it mummy. Me: Then try to focus on enjoying what you are doing. It doesn’t really matter. Soon you will find a way. Him: still crying – but I want it to be perfect mummy. Me: but it can’t though. Nothing is ever really perfect. You just have to keep trying Him: I can’t try mummy, it’s not being perfect Me: try again Him: No mummy, I don’t have to try again because that is not even working. I have to try HARDER. Maybe trying harder will make it perfect. Me: smiling because that made sense but I then said “keep trying that’s the most important thing whether it’s trying “again”, or trying “harder”, just keep trying and don’t give up on your colouring. Ignore the train and enjoy what you are doing. Him: ok mum. …and that was it. There was peace. He began trying harder as he had proposed earlier and suddenly the bumpy ride did not matter. He stopped fussing. After a couple of hours, I glanced at his doodle pad and it looked better than the first time. That’s life really. We all keep trying hard…very hard and sometimes too hard. Life doesn’t have to be such a chore. It doesn’t have to be so difficult. If we change our focus it can make a big difference to the same life as we have found it to be. The bumpy ride, the ups and downs are sometimes constantly there just like our train. So it makes sense to just enjoy what we have to do. Enjoy the job at hand, enjoy the company of friends, enjoy the decisions you are privileged to make. Enjoy the food you have available. Just live life to the fullest. Don’t go emptying your bank account on a shopping spree by the way 😀 Just do the best you can within the circumstances life chooses to impose on you. Have a fantastic day people. Thanks for reading. You may also like some other articles like this. Find them by clicking right here. Photo credit: Pixabay

When things get tricky : Do you try again or try harder?

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Build from where you are, build from where you lie. No use waiting for the stars to align Before you take action to improve yourself You will in turn improve the quality of your life.   In every area of your life take control, Make conscious efforts to be better than who you were yesterday. Make it a project to continually strive to improve. Improvement can be slow, it can be radical. It all depends on you. Build your tomorrow, Leave the past alone. Don’t let it hold you back. Keep surprising yourself by excelling at things that you fear. Fear is a crippling feeling Imposed on ourselves by our minds. Conquer in your mind And see it come to be in the physical world. The first rule is to practice appreciation Always be grateful for the little things you overlook. Your family, friends , that job you keep grumbling about. The roof over your head, your health and most importantly your mind.   You are driven by how you think. Do not compare your path with that of another. You are unique You must find and walk your own path. Learn from your experiences and that of others But never judge anyone. Remember one thing – time waits for no one So get up, start thinking right and most importantly start building your future.   Thanks for reading You may also like others from this series About the author : Ezimen is a professional in the daytime. He loves writing, travelling and having fun! Do you know that you can now submit a post like this? To find out how, click here. Perhaps you fancy reading from others in the community? Find other articles here. Thank you Photo credit : Pixabay

Build from where you are – a poem by Ezimen

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Out of every stressful situation that comes our way, something beautiful can be born. The holy bible (2 corinthians 4:17) reassures us that our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. Praise God. Why then do we scamper and panic whenever troubles come our way? Do we not have a God who is aware of whatever trouble that we face? The bible refers to our troubles as light and momentary. This is a bit thought provoking because we all know that problems vary in weight. Why then does it all get grouped as light? It is because their is a command that Jesus gave to lighten every burden. He said if we come to him when we labour, face trials, problems and feel heavy laden he will give us rest(Matthew 11:28). The question becomes about who we turn to when we feel weary, burdened and weighed down? Do we turn to ourselves, to others (who by the way are as imperfect as we are and are lacking in the wisdom and knowledge that can solve our problems) or do we turn to God? He has asked us to take his yoke upon ourselves. By taking his yoke, we can learn from him how to carry our own burdens more perfectly. His yoke is easy and his burden is light. As Christians, we must learn to focus solely on Christ especially during times when we are unsure about which way to go with our problems. As soon as we stand on our own two feet, we can endure our trials more easily while we await the outcome for our future. Precious metals are made after passing through fire. In the same way, we who are precious to God(Zechariah 2:8) will sometimes face trials in order to grow, be toughened and have a better understanding. What is the use of a lecture without an exam? We have learnt about all the virtues and commandments necessary to lead a good Christian life. Sometimes trials come and when they do, they give us the opportunity to put them into practice. You say you have faith in God, when trials come rather than scampering , you can spend time exercising your faith and totally trusting in God. The Lord chastens and disciplines those he loves (Hebrew 12:6). Rather than will our trials away, let us find ways to cope. We need to try to cope because, things do not last forever. God has the final say. The sufferings of Job teach us that much. He was loved by God and there was no part of his suffering that God was not aware of neither was there a time in his suffering that God was absent. He went through every one of his trials because he was God’s special son whom God had bragged about. This reason remained unknown to him but God took this chance because he had the assurance of Job’s faith. God did not doubt Job’s faith even though he was materially blessed. God could see through all Job possessed and what he saw every time was a true and sincere faith. To think that God is against us because we face problems will be folly. It will be equal to becoming a child of God only because of what we stand to gain from God. A thousand years are like a moment in God’s eyes. Since God’s ways are not our ways and our thoughts different from his, our sufferings remain momentary to him. So it does not matter how long they last because they are not counted by God using our worldly standard of time measurement. Just because we feel weighed down does not mean God will change the time he has set for our answer to come. He makes all things beautiful in his time ( Ecclesiastes 3:11). Notice that the bible says in “His” time. Not in my time or your time. We must trust in God’s divine timing. He said that he will not suffer our foot to be moved (Psalm 121:3). Therefore when we start to wobble in faith we need to go back to our eternal source for strength. We need to replant our feet firmly in Christ by taking his easy yoke. We need to find Jesus in our calamity like Peter at the stormy sea and focus on him so that he can calm our troubled spirit. God can allow suffering to occur in order to propel us into greater things. By complaining we reduce our focus on him and struggle when we should retreat into his presence for the renewal of our minds. I bet when Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, they had no idea that that singular act was going to save a whole nation from starvation one day. It was all part of Joseph’s destiny and a divine plan by God to redeem his beloved people. However, put yourself in Joseph’s shoes for a moment… a young man enjoying the company of his brothers being suddenly sold into slavery by the people he trusted the most. If we were Joseph with our habit of complaining and rebuking every misfortune as devil designed, would we not have wondered why God allowed it to be our portion despite our faithful service to God? The bible describes Joseph’s total faithfulness to God. He just accepted his new life but knew his God was with him all the way.That confidence in the might of his God meant that in a foreign land, he still served and trusted in his God. his complete trust in God steered the course of his his destiny throughout his life. When we suffer, we sometimes blame the devil and evil forces. How about believing that as baptized Christians, nothing bad can ever befall us without God’s knowledge. Realizing that God knows all things we pass through, can that not be the reassurance we need to be steadfast? What is most […]

Trials Are Not Always Bad for Us

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So everyone before you has tried it and every single time they failed… You are warned and told that you will not like it so the safe thing will be to stay away. You decide to chart a new course, to find a new territory to explore. Yet even as you do the new things you cannot seem to shake off your self-belief concerning the dream you left behind. Yes! Others have failed…. Yes! Nobody has gained…. Every single time they come up with losses. One fact you fail to see is that the only person who has not yet tried is YOU. Perhaps you are the one who needs to do things differently. It has not yet been done in the way “you” will do it. Even if you follow the same patterns the fact that it’s your turn to do it may be all  that is needed to make a difference. It may be all it takes to break the jinx, to crack the egg that only you can see within the stone of doubt that surrounds you. The doubt you see may be the shroud that nature has used to disguise it to everyone as impossible in order to preserve your moment. Some songs have been sung before yet everyone stands still when you open your lips. Your stamp may be all we need to put on it to make it unique. It’s your signature on things that may make or mar their success. How will you know the direction that things will take (good or bad) if you don’t try? Have you not heard that you have to be in it to win it? Nobody ever tried by getting comfortable on the fence. You have to step out of your comfort zone to push boundaries beyond your reach. Only then will you discover the strengths within which is what you should seek. That strength is the ace that resides way up your sleeves. It allows you to express your talent in a unique way that makes your dream accomplishable. You will remain unaware of the full extent of your gifts until you  move towards the unreachable depths, the deep recesses of your soul. Then shall these strengths be released and made available from nature for you to access. So do not try to justify why it may be that you have the answer to the riddle that has never been solved. Do not let man-made reasons which may be true steal your self-belief and leave you wandering endlessly without purpose. If you do not start to fulfill the purpose for which you were born, there will be no balm to calm you down as you struggle within to bring things to being. You must try to get on with things until you find a reason to live. To stop is to fail and To listen can sometimes be to derail from the masterpiece that you alone can create. The piece will only be made with the perfect mixture of ingredients only you possess. What you have inborn can never come to life if you don’t try. So next time you believe, weed self-doubt and conspiracy theories woven by people filled with defeat or over cautiousness. Their intentions may not be to stop you from getting there. They may assume that you will do things the same old ways and end up the same way that they did- in defeat. Sometimes it’s because they care that they keep coming to reinforce the impossibility of your dream. It won’t be your dream if they could explain it all to you. It is only you who can tell what you see deep down when you look within. You can defy the kiln by stepping in and giving it all you’ve got. The shot you take may be all it takes to shatter the barriers. The circumstances that caused their failure may be just what you need to succeed. After all they say, It is the you in you that makes you the you that you are! Believe in yourself… Thank you for reading. You may also like other articles in this series. Click here Photo credit: Pixabay

It’s your turn…so believe in yourself.

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There are sometimes when you cannot help. There are some people you cannot save. There are dreams you cannot make come true. There are circumstances you cannot fix. It’s not because you are weak. It’s not because you are mean. It’s just because you are strong enough to realise you do not have all the answers they seek. It’s only then that you will know that you cannot save everyone you meet. There are times you want to solve a problem so badly it hurts. There are times you have to realise that as much as you want to make things okay they cannot be mended. There are times you get sucked into every problem thinking you hold all the solutions. There are times you get so worked up that you cannot see that you don’t have the answer. Maybe it’s because this puzzle is already broken. Some parts are missing and so it cannot really be solved. It’s not about what you have not done right, it’s just that it cannot be fixed. It is only sincerity that helps you see that it is time to stop trying. To let things go so that they can slip away. It is emotion that keeps you bound to all the reasons why you should hold on to what needs to be set free. Some battles will surely be lost because the victory is too costly to celebrate. So you realise soon enough that although you lose them, the loss is cheaper than the victory. It’s time to take back control… To control how you let things make you feel, to stop the circumstance from pulling you in. So that this time maybe you won’t feel it’s mean to see that is not down to you to always be the one to keep it real. You need to control your emotions and stand firm with the decision that stepping away is what you need to do to help things heal. When you try to find the right words, search deep within you and you  will see that silence will be loud enough to fill the heart that seems to sink in despair. So you find that by standing aside you let things slip back into position. Some relationships cannot be mended. Not because of want of trying but because they have come to a point where like a rope they are severed. By trying to mend them you keep going round in circles and coming back to the beginning, to the point where the problem started and like before they start to pull at your heart. Throw in the towel and choose your battles. If you delay you may lose yourself with each arrow off hurt that finds and strikes you. This thing will eat you like a cancer in your soul. It will take over all your sense of reason. It will feel like the more you try, the more your efforts get frustrated. As you keep trying to fix the unfixable, it damages you more. Soon you will look in the mirror and the one you see is someone who definitely did not exist before all this stuff began. You look deep inside and you know that you cannot even recognise this person you see. The one you have become since you refused to let things be. Instead of letting the circumstances take all control. Perhaps it’s time to take the bold step by saying goodbye to show the strength you have and preserve your self-respect. Self belief keeps you trusting that this road you have chosen is for the best. It may not be good for everyone but what matters is that it is good enough to keep you in check. That’s when you will see that waking up from the slumber of self deceit is far from a display of weakness but rather it’s a show of the strength within. Self-knowledge helps you know that the outcome will be the same again. You can move on to preserve your strength and focus on other battles you can win. If you keep choosing your battles rightly you will realise that things are not static. You will win some and you will lose some. It’s the way it has always been from time immemorial before you even came into being. Thank you for reading You can click here for more articles like this. Photo credit: Pixabay

When it’s time to take back control

One thing people must do is … wrong us. Another thing they always do is …make mistakes. We all know this yet every time it happens,we lament. We get upset and the funniest part is that we are always surprised. The truth is that there is really no need for lamentations and surprises. We just have to accept that it is human nature to do wrong; it is human nature to make mistakes. Nobody is perfect only God is perfect. We too are also guilty of offending others and making mistakes. Many of the errors we commit happen unknowingly without any intention. Unfortunately that does not make us less guilty. Every time we point one finger, the other four keep pointing back at us… and with good reason. It is good for us to sometimes pause when we are about to carry out our actions in order to put ourselves in the other party’s shoes. When we feel offended do we expect understanding? Will we feel we deserve a chance to be allowed to explain? Perhaps we might even desire that our wrongdoings be brought to our attention so that we can make amends. If we feel that any of these questions describe our feeling in different situations, then perhaps we need to take our foot off the anger pedal and just forgive. Forgive others even before they realise they are wrong. Forgiveness is difficult to exercise but powerful enough to free your heart of anger and worry.  Realise that if people were wise, they would not go about offending others…especially you. Don’t let yourself go crazy because of their own errors of judgement. Apart from the bible asking us to do unto others what we want them to do to us, it annoyingly says we have to forgive 70*7 times. Sometimes I get angry with those Jesus’s disciples for asking too many questions. Their inquisitive nature gave rise to this decree. Now we must obey because we can no longer claim ignorance. They allowed Jesus to give a clear order on forgiveness to the extent that Jesus brings it up in the Lord’s Prayer – “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”  Therefore in not so many words, as long as we hold on to grudges, we are asking God not to forgive us! Now it gets even worse – Matthew 5:23 – 24 takes it a step further: i call it the peace making decree: It says if you are about to dance happily to the altar and suddenly remember that “your brother has something against you” then stop and find him, make peace, before you continue that altar dance! Seriously?!?! Not only do you have to make peace with someone you have offended ( which honestly seems logical) , you also have to  look for those who have offended you (who by the way you may not want to hear about) Chai!! Na you do me wrong but na me go beg! To me, illogical!! However, our God up there thinks in ways different from us (Isaiah 55:8). Unfortunately, the way that may seem right to me (like begrudging my brother for wronging me) may lead to my destruction (proverb 14:12). So I have to obey God (1 Samuel 15:22). Obedience is better than sacrifice. One thing I always do even against my own personal wish, is follow God’s commandment. It’s hard but it gets easier with time. Like everything else in life, (“na to start na im hard pass” –meaning that things are more difficult to begin with) but constant practice leads to perfection. If you resolve today to hold no grudge and start making peace with others,before long it will become second nature. Do you know what the best part is? You will be doing God’s will! So today, let our prayer be – God teach us how to forgive all around us, you gave us the ultimate example on the cross, and you asked God to forgive us as we know not what we do. Help us to realise that those who wrong us know not what they do and so deserve our forgiveness in Jesus name, amen. Please make peace with someone today. I know by God’s grace that as you read this piece, the names of those who have wronged you or those you have wronged might spring to your mind. Don’t ignore the urge to make peace, stop holding on to the pain they caused. Take the first step, make that call, and find that person. We all join you in prayers; let Jesus do the rest as he is a man of peace. If you let him, he will pour his peace into your life today and always.  I leave you with a quote by Charlotte Bronte which my father taught me when I was little – “life appears to me to be too short to be spent in registering wrongs and nursing animosity”. Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed this article, then trust me… you will love my meditations too! Look here to see them. Photo credit: Pixabay.

The Dilemma of forgiveness

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I remember when Otito was born… Life went wrong. We felt lost. In an instant everything came crashing down on us. We were at the centre trying to make sense of it all. A simple birth had turned out to be a disaster… One that was heading in the direction of the disaster we had a few years earlier. At times we reached out to others but it felt like the more we did the more we were misunderstood. Social circles disappeared, best friends walked away. Not because they did not care but because they could not care. They lacked in them the ability to be for us the comfort we sought in the new circumstance we found dictating our lives. It would have been easier to bury our head in the sand and pretend that by locking away our feelings, our problem will disappear and Otito will be perfect. But we knew that although the ground we stood on was sinking, we still had to find a way.  It was only then that we were able to raise our head up from the sand. That was when we understood that we were never alone to start with. We were surrounded by people who wanted to help. They were all new to us, but they could only take our hands if we reached out. That is what we saw when we found you …. We saw your smile and it gave us hope. We heard your voice and filled us with joy. It was not the kind of joy or hope that made our pain go away. It was rather the kind that melted away the fear. You have stood by us from near and from afar. You look after us as a family. To you it’s just a job. To us it is a lifeline, a job only you do best. We know sometimes you get it wrong and nobody said you were perfect but the fact that you keep trying means Otito’s life is what fighting for. You see, you came into our lives when we were at our lowest. We thought all hope was lost when our son Otito was diagnosed. But you did one beautiful thing. You never hid anything from us about the full extent of our reality. We have never felt ignored, fooled or taken for granted. You have treated us with respect and preserved our dignity as a family in more ways than one. The more we reached out to you, the more you stood firmly by us. Always reassuring and never pushing us away. We could never have carried this burden without your expert help and strength. For this we are thankful…. The end of the year for most people ushers in the yuletide season but for us it means way more than that. It is always a time of reflection for us as a family… a time when our consciousness is drawn to how lucky we are to still have Otito in our lives. The end of this particular year marks the fourth year in the fight to keep Otito alive and stable. It has been by far the most difficult year for him as a person. In our eyes it has also been the year when the depth of your knowledge about his condition has been tested the most, weighed on a scale but never found wanting. There have been times when we have wondered about the sense and worth of this fight…times when the illness has made Otito less of a boy and more of a patient. Times when he has been reduced into a literal ball of pain curled up in his cot. At those times our strength has been drawn not just by Otito’s zest for life but by the reassurance of your expertise and unrivalled professionalism in carrying out the duty of care to him. We have found our way as a family. We have found our rhythm during this most difficult year but never without you all being beacons shining brightly and pointing us in the right direction. There have been those who touched our lives in ways that have not been medical but which we have found invaluable. Some found us and touched our lives without even knowing us directly. Although they remain far away from us, their contributions and works of charity have doused the fire of stress and chaos that sometimes envelop us as a family. Their efforts have nearly eliminated our confusion and struggle at times. Some others have supported us emotionally, psychologically and even spiritually with their prayers. We thank …. Rays of sunshine, Gosh Charity, Family fund, Newlife Charity, Campbell burns trust…Just to name a few… You plastered a huge smile on our faces when you touched our lives and spilled that ray of hope in Otito’s life. Let your benefactors know that your drops of kindness to us although little to you, were big enough to enlarge our ocean of love and support. He may never personally understand your kindness but we see his positive energy and know that if he could he would appreciate you. We thank you all… For everyone who runs, walks or clicks their glass to different charities we want you to know that your kindness has touched us in different ways and made us believe that love and kindness still reside in this world. We thank the huge online community who have supported us by reading, liking and sharing the content on our website. Your kind comments and e-mails have meant the world to us all here at the Whispering Hope HQ. We also thank The Naked Convos for providing us with a good constructive distraction. We say thank you…. As we step into this New Year with Otito, we have no idea if our rollercoaster ride with him will be bumpier than we are used to. What we hope for is that however high or low it goes, it should be smooth. We know we’re not alone and trust in your presence directly or indirectly in […]

An Ode for Otito as he turns 4…Dedicated to every one who has ever supported us.Thank you!

Acknowledgement and recognition to me are hazardous to creativity. They can be propellers, creating fuel for more creativity. They bring with them the feeling of acceptance, the stamping of somewhat of a pride of place within an endeavour. They provide a sense of establishment to the creator within their sphere of creative ability. Unfair criticisms on the other hand are simply “unfair!”. They have a red flag attached to them as soon as they appear and so the creator perceives them and can instantly with wisdom push them away stopping them from impeding creativity. With good practice, criticisms can be spotted, determined and removed from the creator’s consciousness by simply ignoring and not rising to them. This automatically makes acknowledgement and recognition the preferred accolades to experience. However I find that the fuel they provide to an artist is very risky and highly volatile. They come very quickly but have the tendency of vanishing as quickly as they come. They can raise an artist and propel him/her to more success but the problems they bring to the artist begin when they stop coming. The artist is then left emotionally downcast and tumbles down, in a crash landing manner. The unexpected and abrupt way they become withheld or non-existent in some cases can block the artist and equally impede further creativity. An artist may begin to lose the zeal to keep creating because they feel unable to muster praise and acknowledgement from people. Praises come without warning, creating enjoyment and a good old euphoria of certainty and reassurance to the artist about the authenticity of his/her work. Consequently, it is not surprising that because they begin so suddenly, they can reduce or stop without warning as well. The best types of acknowledgement and recognition are the ones that breed praises that are unsolicited, sincere and really a mere appreciation of the prowess achieved by an artist. Anything other than this will be mere flattery and lip service. Acknowledgement and recognition should be the product of success and not the centre, essence and focus of creativity When all an artist seeks is acknowledgement, it can create a block. Simple pieces become over-analysed by the artist and the need for praises overtake the need for creativity while working. This in turn interferes with the masterpiece set out to be created by the artist. “Will they like this one?” “Should I add this or that to be sensational?” …when these types of questions begin to come up, they encroach and overtake the consciousness of the artist until they weigh down and ultimately extinguish the real creation intended by the artist. There becomes the need to find a new kind of fuel for the artist… a fuel from within. This preferred type of fuel will be the type that can remain constant and not yoyo at will. Just a simple interest and strong conviction about what the artist intends to achieve should be enough to drive creativity. So you simply paint because you like to paint. You run because you love to run and feel you will have it in you to push yourself even further. You write come rain, come shine because you just love to write! Let the acknowledgement and recognition or praise of your work stay outside of you. Let them not consume your consciousness until you cannot live and breathe without them. This attitude relieves the pressure on an artist as s/he functions within their creative sphere.  The do or die nature that is bred by praise seeking becomes reduced. You are a star- once a star always a star. Not all stars will shine as brightly as the Sun or Northern Star but that does not reduce their place in the galaxy as stars. The sky is big enough for all the stars. So stop trying to bring down other artists so that you can look better and as such gain acknowledgement from others. Not everyone is blessed to create masterpieces every day and you reduce your chance of creating that masterpiece each time you tilt your eyes away from your work. Each time you spend chasing praises can be better spent refining your masterpiece. Some activists were not loved while they lived. They just felt very strongly about the causes they stood for and many were killed in the process. If they were depending on the acknowledgement and total acceptance of people, there would have been no basis for the inspiration they now posthumously endear in people today. So today, if you’re guilty of seeking this vain glory, you should consider refocusing your energy on your talent and work. When you are successful, glory will come... Success has always been the mother of acknowledgement. Success has many family members- nuclear and extended. But failure on the other hand is always an orphan. So as my people will say in Nigerian pidgin “Ushay face ya work o!” Thank you for reading If you enjoyed reading this article there are many others like it on this website. You can find them here. Photo credit: Pixabay

The danger of seeking acknowledgement and recognition in the creative sphere.

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This story began here last week. By morning after an exhausting night battling with my emotions, controlling my temper, crying, breathing… I felt calmer. Later that day, my son was transferred back to the parent hospital to my excitement. They thought he was now safe for the trip. I did not think he was any different from how he was the previous night though. He had been observed overnight and all was fine. We got to the parent hospital later that day. Sadly, no sooner had I arrived the main hospital, than another battle erupted about whether or not to restart a particular medication. Before I could say Jack, the doctor smacked in my face the fact that if I wanted my way, I had to append my signature in my son’s notes to show that it was my idea to go against their advice. He had not even given me any advice regarding this medication. So how can I be going against an advice that I had not yet received? I told him to explain this advice and he did. He said he had assumed I knew already. After a thorough explanation I was not only convinced about the plan of action but fully in support of my child remaining on the medication in question. It appeared to me that the hospital we got discharged from had something to do with this alien attitude towards my simple questions. I could not help but feel that somehow they had fed this back to his hospital. In all the years I had used this hospital I had never been asked to sign anything. I had been allowed to disagree, voice my opinions and concerns, ask questions and I had listened for answers which in most cases were satisfactory. I was used to being given thorough explanations about the plans of actions being made for my son before they were executed. During these explanations they accommodated my questions and clarified all my concerns. I would not  have understood my son’s illness as much as I did if not for the understanding and patient way things had been explained to me over the years by the same doctors. It really was a shock to me that this behaviour sprang up from out of blue after being transferred back from the hospital that day. It was too much of a coincidence. I appreciate that it is both very difficult to listen and to be listened to when one communicates too emotionally. However, being the professionals, I believe they should have been trained on crisis management. It sometimes feels like parents risk being tagged by some of them as crazy as soon as their ideas about treating their kids are at cross purposes with those of these professionals. It feels like parents are not allowed to be angry, upset or frustrated. Like they are not human beings expressing their feelings. It feels sometimes like opposing opinions held by parents become a recipe for their psychoanalysis by some healthcare professionals. This I think is not only unfair but unnecessary. Many parents feel like they have to assume a demeanour of coolness, put up an act of calmness for this reason. Deep down, parents are sometimes not in agreement but for fear of being over-analysed by these professionals, they practice this nicely and expertly until it becomes second nature. Soon enough despite constant mental rehearsal, the shroud of coolness slips and their true feelings erupt. This does not make the parent crazy, it just makes them angry, frustrated, tired- but mostly human. We see these feelings been accommodated from people -everyone else, and they are seen as normal forms of expression. Many are even proverbially allowed five minutes of madness but not parents with sick children. One will feel that having the added stress of caring for a chronically ill child will earn a parent even an extra minute of madness but rather it removes any such allowance. As a parent or carer, you can’t help but feel discriminated against every time you express those same feelings. How can a question about the safety of your child be the bone of contention when the issue at hand is your simple inability to accept a treatment plan for your child? How do you go from not wanting something for your child to endangering them just because you dare to express your disagreement? What happened to making parents see sense? Where did the word crisis management disappear to? What happened to finding ways to calm the parent down? Perhaps discussing such issues later could be thought of as a solution? Just so people know parents experience feelings of entrapment because they have disabled children and it’s totally unfair. In my case I had to have a chat with the member of staff to express these feelings and luckily got listened to and understood. I pointed out that parents are mostly misunderstood. I feel this misunderstanding is because most of the healthcare professionals are not in touch with our reality. It’s quite hard for human beings to empathize with a situation they know nothing about in terms of experience. Unfortunately as much as healthcare professionals feel that they deal with sick children on a daily basis, such proximity is not synonymous with experiencing dealing with the same sick children as their parent or carer. The stresses we all go through as parents and carers on a daily basis, the emotions we confront, the strengths we have to access within ourselves to keep all together, the highs and lows are just a few of the things we deal with to steer our family ship and keep things on track. These are not what these healthcare professionals have to deal with in their own lives. Our children will always be a job to them while most of what constitutes their job… is our life. However in the end we all- parents, carers, healthcare professionals, staff and so on, should have the interests […]

Hospital life: Is there a gag order on parents? PART 2

There is indeed no use wasting time thinking what life has made you become. The past is in the past, the present is now and you can do something about it especially things that are within your control. The future remains unforeseen and we only hope it turns out in our favour. The uncertainties in life mean that nobody can claim complete mastery of it. We just have to keep up the daily struggle that is, for those who are able mentally and physically. We all have our individual idiosyncrasies and sincerely speaking, our paths in life are tailored towards different directions leading to our individual destinations. For me, the past three years have been a mission that only God has been my fortress. The waves and tides of life have tossed me up and down but my resilience has seen me through it all. I am the eldest of a family of four. My other siblings are all married and supposedly happy with kids and affluence. My parents to the glory of God are still alive and kicking. My relationship with Stanley was known to all in my locality, we both graduated from the university the same year but we were posted to different states to complete the compulsory one year national youth service corps. I was in the south precisely Ebonyi state while Stanley was posted to Zamfara state up north were the sun showed no mercy to the inhabitants. Distance did not hinder the love we had as we inter visited during the service year. Four months to the end of service year, Stanley visited and announced he would be with me till some weeks to “passing -out”. I was overjoyed but at the same time concerned as to how he could pull this off knowing how strict the zonal coordinator in his place of service was.  Stanley simply asked me to calm down that all was sorted before he left Zamfara. It was the best time in my life… We went to the pictures, shopped, clubbed, quarrelled and made up with hot sex! Three months flew by so quickly. I was so happy and did not want the fairytale to end. Stanley preferred to stay indoors a lot. It was so sweet that we could not seem to have enough of each other. However, I woke up very worried so I had told Stanley that I was feeling unwell. The truth was that my period was late. We had thrown caution into the air. I could not blame Stanley totally but…my thoughts were cut short because all I could think of was how to leave the house to get some pregnancy test strips to confirm. There was no need to worry him. That windy evening as I was on my way back from the pharmacy, I bumped into Ezekiel. Ezekiel was Stanley’s friend who had recently gone AWOL. It was definitely lovely to see him. As I approached him, he wore a sombre expression. “It’s so good to see you looking strong “, he said embracing me tightly. “How do you mean?”, I asked puzzled. He met my gaze with a surprised look. His next words confused me. “Stanley died in an auto crash on his way back to Zamfara from home”, he said. I burst into laughter. It was the most ridiculous thing ever. “Are you ok? I asked wondering if he was drunk. “I left Stanley in my room and he has been here for the past three months”. I added. The look in his eyes was scary. “That can’t be possible” he screamed. “I attended his funeral personally and assumed your absence to be down to grief”, he blurted. I felt like punching Ezekiel really hard. He was speaking out of character. He was either drunk or sick himself. Stanley was in my room and only stayed back because I tricked him. I felt I had to buy my pregnancy test kit on my own. It was all a bit awkward. I decided to take the silly Ezekiel along with me to prove his craze. This was certainly an expensive joke. We got to the room and it was locked from outside as instructed by Stanley because he didn’t want any disturbance from my neighbours. Stanley was nowhere to be found when I opened the door. It felt a bit eerie when I walked in. I looked around the room but he wasn’t there. His bags were gone, his slippers where not on the doormat. I checked the bathroom and even his towel was gone…gone! There was no trace of him. I was shaking all over and screaming hard. There was just nothing. I was downcast. I sank into my puff. It all made no sense. Buzzzzz! My mobile phone began to ring. It was my mum. I picked it up and she was telling me to be strong because she had some news…. “It’s not true … don’t say it mum” I cried, interrupting her. “Is Stanley really dead?” I was weeping like a baby now. It was then that I felt his hands. He held me close. I turned around but Ezekiel was still standing by the door where I left him. Shhhhh…..Shhhh…. he whispered. I relaxed into the puff and my phone fell beside me but I could still hear my mum. Her voice pierced through the quietness in the room. Very softly….very distant … but very definite. “Yes baby, Yes…I am so sorry. His mum just left.” Mum said. “Are you still there?” mum asked I was whimpering. The sorrow hit me hard. It all did not make sense. I shut my eyes and I was in his arms again. It was warm. It made me smile but I knew I had to be strong. He was gone… I began to cry hysterically as the realisation hit me. I cried….mum could hear me. “Sorry baby…are you going to be ok, or will you come home?” mum asked. I just cried…. I woke up […]

A day never to be forgotten… The day my cookies crumbled!!!!

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“You may not be aware that some of the doctors and nurses return home to their own disabled children”. That was what the staff I spoke to told me at the end of what was a long venting speech from me. The subject was about the frustrating weekend the other health professionals providing care for my son had left me with. Luckily for me this nurse provided a listening ear. As he said those words, they hit me like a ton of bricks and they sunk right into what I like to think of as my understanding. It had been a rather long weekend. It was just Sunday morning but it felt like there had been six days in that weekend. My son had developed a new complication which meant the solution lay beyond our current hospital. Salvation awaited him in another hospital within town and in no time we were on our way to obtain it. We arrived late that night and by morning the necessary investigations were carried out. In less than a few hours, the new hospital had delivered on its promise and saved my son from deteriorating any further. I was happy but soon, I began to get restless, irritable and very protective of my son as it appeared that the hospital had no discharge plan for him. They only seemed to want things done their own way. This was a different hospital with totally alien structures to me. It was not like anything I was used to in the hospital I came from. I felt like I was surrounded by highly opinionated doctors who were more interested in reminding me that they were in charge rather than listening to my concerns. My son was too delicate for any trial and error. Moreover, if all was completed, and they had delivered as promised, I wondered why we were not on our way back! My frustrations rioted within me to the point of chaos. I could not bear it anymore and just had to be heard. I asked them to discharge my son immediately. They tried without success to convince me that he had to be observed as stable before releasing him back to the hospital where we was transferred from. As long as I was not getting what I wanted, I was getting more frustrated and feeling that they were not listening to me. It was so exhausting. I was making no progress. In no time, I started to cry. The tears were anything but calming. I felt even more frustrated and helpless. Well in the end, after all, I had to stay. The staff did not budge. They cited his safety as the main reason for their decision to keep him in. If that was supposed to calm me down it was the wrong move. It rather made me more upset. Where they implying I wanted to endanger my son by requesting he be transferred back to our original hospital? It was ridiculous. They sounded like they loved him more than I did. Suddenly I felt like they were trying to take over, my role as his mom. I was the one meant to protect him, to keep him safe… Not them! To be continued… Thanks for reading. Photo credit: Pixabay You may also like other write ups like these.They make up the series I fondly call The Hospital life

Hospital life: Is there a gag order on parents? PART 1

Walking out of my room today I had a lot on my mind but try as I may, I just could not settle. It was like all my racing thoughts wanted me to think them all at once! It was the craziest feeling…my thoughts all wanting to be thought about at the exact same time. My heart raced, I blinked too many times. On the outside, I was really cool as a cucumber but inside I was anything but cool…I felt mad! A lot had been happening in my life and the last few hours saw me reaching the end of my tether. I had so much on my mind to the extent that I could not even complete one thought before another sprung up, crushing whatever was initially on my mind. I tried to refocus on the new thought but then another sprang up, then another and yet another…. I found myself going down the lift, still standing tall when in reality I was about to be crushed by these endless array of thoughts. My emotions were running riot. I just wanted to scream. I wanted to cry too and then laugh all at once! If I had more than one mouth then that would have made my life easier. At that point I realised that like my thoughts, I could not even choose a suitable way to express my feelings. Tip…tap… tip…tap…. I could hear the sound of my feet behind me (or so it seemed). I walked down the long corridor that led outside. I desperately needed to calm down. The thought that I was by myself  at last was very comforting. Honestly I would have messed up any attempt to speak to anyone the way I was feeling. I focused on the sound of my feet…. Tip… tap… tip… tap…. Then the giant sliding doors flung open on my approach. That now- beginning- to- be- relaxing sound was drowned out by the sound of rain hitting the hard ground of the streets. I stood under the canopy at the entrance and let myself watch the rain as it fell. I looked up and the sky was grey– very grey. It looked even greyer today. I followed the rain with my eyes and began to see everywhere it landed…. It landed on cars that in turn splashed the puddles on people as the cars swished by on the street. It landed on a woman I remember her because she wore a white jacket, grey frilly skirt and very high heels (I wondered if she would not have been better off indoors as those shoes were definitely not safe in the rain). I smiled as she jumped to avoid the splash from the tyres in vain. It was such a funny sight. I just smiled. That was my first smile that day… Pitter…patter…pitter…patter…. The raindrops made a cacophony of sorts as it hit different surfaces. The streets, the rooftops , cars, people… in fact everywhere! The strong wind added character to the rain. Wooooooh…woooooh…. The wind seemed to scream fiercely. It blew up the rain cover as a mum pushed her toddler in a buggy. The little tot screamed as some drops splashed on her. It was a girl (or at least I thought she was with all the pinkness surrounding the otherwise cosy buggy). Next was the turn of a dog that ran by looking for shelter… then down the road. There were men in reflective vests pushing wheelie bins into a big green truck Beep….beep…. The truck blared from its stationary position as the bins were being raised into the van to empty their contents. Afterwards, another group of men were standing in raincoats and seemed to be arguing about something down the road. It just felt like they were all putting on a film show for my viewing pleasure. From where I stood, I felt well entertained. As the rain subsided I ventured in. I needed to be a part of this day. I could not resist taking in the view. Green trees, a hedge with a little fence, children behind running about happily at play. I only managed to walk down the road and decided to return. The strong smell of coffee drew me instead. I decided to follow it to the Costa shop where I relaxed and savoured a cup. Right there when I sat down to have my coffee, I realised that not once had I even remembered to focus on the thoughts that forced me out of the building in the first place. So I decided there and then to take at least a walk at the height of my emotion laden day. The fresh air and outdoors can have enough distraction in them to keep you calm and possibly a bit more settled. Have you discovered any other way to keep yourself more distracted on a stressful day? Please leave a comment below to tell us all about it. Thank you for reading You may also find more stories like this here Photo credit: Pixabay

How to stay calm on a stressful day

I first heard about the term central line when my son was a baby. Born early and with his failing health, he needed lots of fluids (drips) and sometimes blood to be delivered through his tiny little veins. At other times, he needed blood tests. This meant more pricking and prodding. He cried and wailed a lot when the need to either take or give him fluids increased. By the first 6 months of his life he had so many scars on his hands, feet and even his head. That was when I got told that he needed a central line. My first thoughts were that he was going to be given a drink in the centre of his body. I consented to the procedure without batting an eyelid. All I could think of was how to lessen his suffering. It was carried out under general anaesthetic and it certainly improved his quality of life especially from a trauma point of view. Well fast forward many years later, my son has had so many central lines done at different times. We have mostly had to remove them due to infection rather than age. One of such infections was nearly fatal. In our case, the central lines have become a permanent fixture because his medical needs are way higher than we all wish. He still needs fluids and samples collected from him on a fairly regular basis. For a family new to the idea of having a central line, it will be useful to ask as many questions as possible before, during and after the process. Here are some questions I got answers to which you may find useful. Remember that these answers are based on my understanding of what the health professionals handling my son’s care have advised. In case you notice any contrary advice, kindly seek clarification with your child’s medical team in the first instance and always follow their advice. This is not a medical write up and should be used only as a guide to  give you an idea of the whole central line shenanigan … So please, now that we have cleared that up and without any further ado, here they are! What is the central line? It is a tube made of soft plastic material. The tube is placed in the child’s chest until the end of the tube inside the child’s body is sitting close to the heart. Why does my child need a central line? From what I was told, it sits in a big vein close to the heart and makes life a lot easier for the child and medical practitioners in terms of giving or collecting fluids, blood, feeds and for carrying out necessary intervention as the need arises. It is also useful for collecting blood samples for tests. It is used for giving medicines that will otherwise be injected thereby reducing the direct trauma to the child. This is because only the tube will be used for access rather than pricking the child with needles. How long does it last? It depends on the type of central line you are given. At one point our son had a port-a-cath. It can last up to one year- sometimes more. Other central lines like Hickman lines and Groshong lines have their different life-spans so don’t forget to find out. Can my child swim? Once again it depends on the type you have. For a port-a-cath (like the one we have), the device sits under the skin. When in use it is accessed with a needle from outside the skin and stuck down with tape. During access it will not be safe to swim with. Once de-accessed, your child can swim because there will be nothing outside the skin. If it is a Hickman or Groshong line, you will have to check the suitability for swimming with your child’s doctor. How will the central line be inserted? It is usually done under general anaesthetic. As the child sleeps, the line is inserted and secured. The child will not feel it. The child may be sore for a few days afterwards. Like with any operation there are risks of infection, scarring, bleeding etc but all these will be properly discussed with you before you consent to the procedure. What happens to the skin around the central line? The skin will be regularly cared for. Some children (like my son) may find the tape securing the line to the skin irritating. Irritation can include soreness, itchiness, rashes and oozing. Report this as soon as you notice to the doctors and nurses caring for your child. A skin rescue protocol can be devised by the practitioners looking after your child to protect the skin. Aqueous Creams, steroid creams and other ointments can be used to soothe the skin regularly. In general, central lines are medical devices that should not be taken lightly. You have to monitor your child. Make sure they do not get broken. An emergency kit should be provided in case this happens. You must ask for one before your child is discharged. Your doctor will explain fully what you have to do if such an emergency arises with the line. You will be given details about who to call and where to go in order to sort out your child’s device. Proper hygiene is also required when handling central lines to avoid infection. You can check out the GOSH and Macmillian websites for more information. They use these lines regularly and have more resources that you may find useful. What are your experiences with them, good or bad? For those new to central lines, ask away and one of us here will point you in the right direction. Thank you for reading. Photo credit: Pixabay You may also like other write ups like these.They make up the series I fondly call The Hospital life

Hospital Life : When your child needs a Central line…

Wow…what a pleasure to have you here this week for the conclusion of this story. For those who do not know we had a Part 1 and Part 2 before this one. It may be worth catching up on those to give you the full gist. So without any further ado, here is how the story concludes… Now it all made sense! The call earlier … the insistence on her attending today. He did say the next appointment was in two months time. What he did not say and should have said was that she did not have 2 months. She had cancer. Surely she had no lumps and bumps. Amamda sat for the next half hour panicking and worrying on that seat while smiling at anyone who walked past. She was trying to hold it all in and not break down. As she reached for her phone in her bag, a nurse walked up to her. Why is she smiling at me like she is pitying me already? Amamda thought. “Hi Mrs Oki, my name is Nikki your nurse for today”, she said “Hi Nikki, you can call me Amamda”, she replied “I will like you to take a seat for me on this armchair”, the nurse said “No I am very fine here where I am”, Amanda replied “Please seat on this chair because I want to take bloods from you and its more comfortable”, the nurse added “No thank you”, Amanda said “You see, all the patients seat here. This seat is meant for patients”, the nurse said a bit sharply “No thank you”, Amamda said to the nurse again but this time with her voice slightly raised “I am not one of your patients”, Amanda added sternly. With that the nurse agreed and looked at Amamda rather surprisingly. She was not really sure why the lady was being upset about sitting on a chair but if she was fine there, then she did not mind doing the bloods from her current position on the smaller chair. Amamda was a bit upset about the nurse. Why was she being so pushy? she thought. It was really surprising to hear the nurse confirm her worst fears. She just addressed her as her patient. Amamda was very happy that she rejected it. No way! What will happen to her family if this was really true? She could feel herself trembling all over. She needed to get some fresh air. It was all a bit too much for her to handle. She reached for her phone again but the battery had died. She cursed the silly phone under her breath as she made her way back to the lobby where she sat in initially. There was a water dispenser on the side and so she made herself drink 2 cups of water to calm down. The nurse called Amamda later. Amamda was quite thankful that she had walked out earlier because she felt a lot calmer and ready to face her reality. The nurse turned out to be a nice lady. She offered her a cup of tea which she accepted. The blood tests were endless. It felt like 100mls of blood had been taken from her. The nurse filled many bottles and labelled them carefully before leaving. Later she ushered Amamda into the doctor’s office for her appointment. “Hello Amamda, I spoke to you on the phone earlier. I am Dr Gupta. Thank you so much for attending. I just thought it will be easier to get your appointment out of the way so you won’t just be left wondering endlessly about the next thing to do”, the doctor said Hmm what a nice sermon, Amamda thought. He is obviously preparing me for the news. “So how are you in yourself generally?” He asked “Fine thank you”, Amamda replied. “No coughs, cold, pains? You know all the usual signs of ill health?”,  He asked “No… none at all. I feel very fit and well”, She said “Ok that’s fine”,  he said reassuringly I wonder why he is not dropping the bombshell! “So why did you have the blood test for B12 done.It seems a bit unsusual”. He asked while he tapped away on the computer at his desk. Really? He is still making small talk? I wonder how long before he spills the beans! “Well, I was experiencing severe abdominal pains and decided to go to my doctor for tests. I had swabs taken and scans were done but nothing was found. In the end, we did blood tests and nothing popped up apart from the high B12. I was told it could not cause me any pains but there you go”, Amamda explained. “Are the pains still present?”,  He asked looking at her for the first time “No they are not. They turned out to be as a result of my contraceptive coil. Sorry I forgot to mention that”, Amamda said “Oh that’s ok”, Dr Gupta said, “go on”, he urged “Well, the scan showed that my coil was lying very low in my uterus and the gynaecologist confirmed that such low lying coils could cause abdominal and back pains”, Amamda replied. “Do you still have the coil?”, he asked “Yes I do”, Amamda said “That’s fine then”, said the doctor “Why? Is it a problem? Only I have an appointment to replace it in a few weeks. I am in the process of doing my gynaecology swabs to make sure that I have no infections before the coil swap is done you see. Should I just get rid of it and not swap the old coil for a new one? Could it be why my B12 is high?” Amanda asked looking very worried. “Oh no, I was just asking routine questions. The Coil is fine and not the reason for the high levels. There is really nothing to worry about. Sometimes these levels go up and down. With the absence of any other symptoms, and the previous […]

The appointment part 3

Honestly, this topic was written today after an encounter I had today in the parents’ kitchen. If your child has ever been admitted in a hospital you will notice that there exists a hot spot within each ward- the parents’ kitchen. It is the one place where all the parents meet. It is like a meeting place. All in the name of needing a well deserved cup of tea or biscuit, parents randomly escape into this place. It is called a kitchen not for the same reason you call the one in your home as no form of real cooking actually takes place within it. It is just a kitchen because it warehouses cups, plates and various cutlery to aid parents’ feeding. You find a kettle situated within it as well as tubs for tea, coffee and sugar. Some hospitals have a sink and even sofa for relaxation. It can be a place to relax away from the ward. Relationships are struck between parents over cups of coffee. Ideas are exchanged. Some parent come in also to show off their excellent parenting skills. Some come to express their frustrations while others come to listen. The ears they provide may be all another stressed out parent finds comforting. For me, I find it to be very magical. I have received lots of good advice from parents in the kitchen. It is one of the places I dutifully locate as soon as my son is admitted into the hospital. You see, it is not a beehive of activities all the time. Sometimes, it can be deserted. The level of pressure and care required by kids vary at different times impacting inversely on the number and mood of the parents you find there. When children are very sick and dire, parents tend to sit beside their kids and appear to zap in and out of the room hurriedly. However, as children begin to stabilize and parents start to feel less tense, they begin to realise the boredom of being in the hospital. As a result, they start to be attracted to the parents’ kitchen where they then mingle with other parents. As much as parents converge here at different times, it can be reassuring to meet parents who have tales to share about their children. Some parents share very personal stories that strengthen and reassure others at various stages of their own journey. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes, the information shared can be very alarming. New parents and parents with newly diagnosed children are usually the most alarmed. As they struggle to deal with their children’s diagnosis and worry about what lies ahead, information shared by other parents can be anything but comforting. The stories can be horrifying and can leave them wondering about if these things they hear about will equally and inevitably befall their children. This is quite a normal worry for everyone who hears an alarming tale for the first time. Try not to worry too much about this. Remember that some stories are told to relieve the teller’s frustration about the issue being discussed. It may not be totally factual, it may be exaggerated, it may even be true but will by no means replace what your own health professional has advised. We all tend to carry out an unconscious mental comparison when a child is being discussed by their parent in the parents’ kitchen (or wherever we encounter them)There is no use comparing your child with the child being discussed as you listen. every child is different. The child being discussed may have a totally different illness and so there automatically becomes no basis for comparison. The illness may be the same but because your child is of a different age and unique in his/her own way, there also is no reason to spend valuable time working yourself up by engaging in this unconscious comparison of sorts. New parents who hear these stories should try not to worry too much about the future prospect of the stories they hear. Most of the parents in question have had enough time to deal with their children’s illnesses and so worrying about your capability and suitability as a parent will be unfair to you because you have not have as much time to deal with the meaning and implication of the diagnosis on your own. As much as advice is good and information is key to surviving the diagnosis, not all knowledge initially empowers. Sometimes knowledge can weigh you down when there is information overload. For this reason, I agree with the saying that less is more! Accepting little bits of information at a time can help preserve  your sanity all through the process of coping. So stay strong and stay in control. Thank you for reading! You may also like similar posts in this series Photo credit: Pixabay

Hospital Life : Worried about what other parents say

Thanks for joining us again this week. For those just joining us, the story began last week here. So for the rest of us, let’s dig in… The receptionist asked her to wait in the second waiting room. Amamda felt very alarmed as she walked in. There were very huge arm chairs all around the room. They were a very sad looking pale blue colour. They were arranged in a circle around a large hall. There must have been about 15 of them. On each arm chair were 2 large white pillows. Beside the large armchairs were smaller chairs, a foot stool and some magazines. They also had a drip stand next to each arm chair. She noticed a fan in the centre of the room. A large wall painting hung on the wall across the room too. As she walked towards the circle of chairs, she noticed that  the armchairs behind the large fridge were occupied with patients. They sat on the chair with their arms resting on each pillows. Their drip stands were in use as drips in grey cellophanes hung down from them while the drips were inserted into their left or right arm. Their arms looked very comfortably placed on the large pillows. Some of the patients had their second pillow behind their heads while others rested their other free arms on the spare pillow. They all each had a relative sitting next to them on the smaller chair. While some patients rested their feet on the footstools provided. As Amamda entered the room, she noticed that the room was bigger than it looked to her as she approached. It was surreal. All these people were having their chemotherapy treatments for cancer. As she sat on the chair next to the door, she made sure it was the smaller one meant for the relatives that she sat on. Although she reached the large armchair first before the smaller one, she did not allow herself to be lured by its plush and cosy look. Amamda was sure that sitting on it would tempt her fate. “Jinx her”. From where she sat she wore a solemn and troubled expression. She had not still been told why she was here. The Doctor who called her earlier was nowhere to be seen. The last blood test she had in her local clinic showed that she had elevated b12 levels. She remembered the doctor’s worried expression as he scanned his system for her results. He seemed concerned but clueless as to why these levels were elevated in her blood. His replies to her questions proved he had no idea why. She remembered asking if it was to do with her vegetarian diet. However, the doctor said that would have dropped her b12 levels rather than pushed it up. Amamda remembered searching the internet for reasons and it all pointed to cancer or liver problems. It was all so alarming because she really took good care of her liver. No drinking or smoking. She exercised regularly and drank lots of water. As far as she was concerned, she did everything right. What she could not still understand was why she had been brought to a cancer ward. Did she have cancer? The thought made her gasp. Then suddenly the realisation hit her. Perhaps the city hospital doctor knew exactly why her b12 was elevated. It was cancer! …to be continued next week! Thanks for reading. You can also find the first part here People who read this article also clicked on others like it here. Photo credit: Pixabay

The appointment part 2

Oh dear! What a day. I honestly did not want to write a word today because I have had one of those days. But who doesn’t? So in my usual practice what you preach kind of way, I decided to soldier on, pull myself up and drop a line. I had series of meetings with different doctors today regarding the best course of action to move my son’s treatment forward. Honestly I felt like all my pleas to go in a different direction were just falling on deaf ears. I guess it is also a dilemma for the doctors too. At the end of the day they also wanted what was best for my boy. It’s just that I was not seeing any sense in their argument. Fred has suffered with acute and chronic Pancreatitis for a few months now. In fact that was the primary reason for this admission. Unfortunately, in the mean time he bagged some other complications along the way (you don’t want to know the details of that!) Pancreatitis is an excruciatingly painful condition that attacks the pancreas in the gut. In fact I met a lady who refused to discuss the subject simply because she had suffered with it for 2 weeks previously. She was so worried that by talking about her experience she would jinx her life and re-invite the pancreatitis into her system. She scarily likened it to a constant labour type pain. Panky (as I like to refer to the horrid disease) struck my son last year. He was in a lot of pain all the time. Unfortunately being a non-verbal child meant that there was really no way for him to clearly communicate this to us. For my son, being non-verbal meant an inability to communicate with words which led to frustration and ultimately crying. The bad news about cry-communication was that there was no way of telling what each cry sequence represented. For example I don’t want more food, cry. I want to go out, cry. I want the TV channel changed, cry. I have a dirty nappy, cry and I really need to be changed, cry. We had to always guess what he wanted. It was an elimination process until we could isolate and narrow down his needs. At the time, he cried constantly. So we took him into hospital and he had many tests. The results did not indicate Panky’s presence. So we just honestly put it down to an attention seeking behaviour. His school thought the same too. I decided to ignore the constant crying but unfortunately things got to a height when he cried non-stop for 2 straight days. Something was definitely not right. By the time I took him to the hospital, he was in excruciating pain at which point the diagnosis was made. Well fast forward 6 months later and we are still here waiting for the Panky’s departure! (it had definitely overstayed it’s welcome). We are not only dealing with Panky but also all the friends it has dragged in without even any notice (by this i mean the various complications as a result of it). At one point, he was in so much pain that he had to be on very strong pain killers to snuff out the pain. The problem was that he was nearly snuffed out alongside. As soon as the medicines in question were administered, he slept off instantly (and for hours too) waking up in pain for which he got given more pain relief (and obviously going right back to the sleep from which he had just finally arisen). Although we wanted him pain free, we lost our son to an endless marathon cycle of sleep, groggy awakenings and painful screams. We also felt helpless as parents. It was so sad to watch especially as in no time, he seemed to be a bit resistant to the medicines. There was also the real fear that all the concussion of painkillers could strike with horrendous side effects. The doctors (in their infinite wisdom) at the height of the pain decided to bypass feeding him orally into his stomach. They fed him an intravenous (IV) nutrition called TPN. The pain did not disappear immediately. It took about 2 months of not feeding him orally (into his stomach) to relegate Panky to the background. He was then weaned off the painkillers as his pain subsided. The IV feed idea has been God send because although Panky is still in the picture, not feeding into his stomach has meant that we have seen less of the patient (that has defined my son since he was born) and more of the boy- my little boy. That was all just to give you an idea of how the past two weeks of near pain disappearance has felt for the whole family including all the staff here. We have watched him play, scream happily, hum his songs and become a little mister full of character (at one point waking the whole ward up at 2am with his sing-songs!). He has been the best he has been since he was born. I never knew he could glow as much as he has done. It has been a pleasure to behold. However, amidst all the joy, the presence of Panky was never forgotten. It loomed in the background reminding us of its existence by sending sporadic pangs of pain every now and again. Unfortunately, the time for the IV TPN feed seems to have come to an end. The doctors in their numbers  have come in today to tell me (in not so many words) that we have to restart his oral feeds again. Now, we all know that will be equal to inviting Panky to resume its attack on my son! I can just see it accepting that invitation with all pleasure and leaving us all helpless. But they insist that it is a chance we have to take. He cannot survive long term on the IV TPN feeds. […]

Hospital life – Real effects of Pancreatitis (Panky) on our son

There is one frustration I face daily as a carer. It is the feeling of a sense of loss. It is a loss like no other. Interestingly, this feeling is quite common amongst many carers.  Many carers do not even realise that some of the anger  they direct towards their caring role is as a result of their feeling of loss. Many times, caring is done fully by the caregiver-usually a parent or guardian. In an instant, the needs of the child take precedence over the carers’s needs as a person. Carers give up hobbies, careers, social ties and most of what gives them substance. This in my opinion leads to what I like to think of as self loss. The self loss creeps in slowly and inevitably. As more demands are placed on the carer, their own needs begin to pale in significance. With good reason, the child’s needs take centre stage. As parents or guardians in the first instance who better to assume the role of complete and absolute responsibility for meeting their needs? When your child or loved one is sick for a short time, this is not a problem. In no time, the child becomes well and things  return back to normal. For some other carers unfortunately, things never return to normal. The chaos becomes the new normal, they become forced to accept the new normal and adjust their lifestyles and everything to suit looking after their child. Initially, it does not seem like too much of an ask from the carer’s emotions and psychological well-being. However, as time goes on, the cracks begin to become apparent. The cracks form emotionally and psychologically and gradually assume their existence in the carer by becoming deeply rooted as a feeling of loss. The existence of these feelings of loss though deeply impressed on carers are sadly not only normal but very common amongst carers. The only difference being their time and degree of occurrence. are very normal. My question today is this – is it possible to avoid these feelings? Perhaps care in a better way to make the carer rocksolid against these feelings? I fear the answer is no. These feelings come to everyone in this position but what we can do as carers is control the  extent to which these feelings affect us. How?  By managing the extent to which we let these feelings ruffle the feathers of our existence. It is okay to feel frustrated about not being able to do the things you really feel deprived of as a result of your caring role. Trust me, even the rock solid people you see around whose circumstances differ from yours will feel exactly like you if they walked in your shoes for as long as you have. What I am saying is please don’t be too hard yourself. On the flipside, fellow carers like you who seem emotionally strong do not feel that way everyday. They experience high days and low days. What we all aim for is to have more high than low days. To have more high days, we consciously look at the things that help trigger and sustain the high days and minimise our exposure to the ones that trigger the low days so that they will not inger on for as long as they currently do. When we consider things that trigger and sustain the “high days” we look at everything even the most insignificant things. I will give you an example – Azi is a parent carer who finds himself very frustrated on  some days, he discovered that he feels extremely happy at the sight of the bowl of red grapes on the table. It is not an explicable reason for happiness but it just so happens that the sight of the bowl of red grapes in a bowl on the table by the kitchen window always leaves him experiencing a feeling of elation. The sight more than the taste of those grapes makes him happy. In his minds eye, it triggers happy thoughts that take him back to his days on the family farm when he felt happiest basking in the warmth and comfort of his family. In fact, the more he asks himself why the grapes make him feel so happy, the more he realised its significance to him. Another example is John a parent carer who in his frustration and boredom found himself colouring the pages of an empty notebook. It all started out of boredom but with each stroke of his brush, he found that he began to feel elated and lost in the distraction provided by the burst of colours he created as he marked the pages. Today on very stressful days, John creates time for colouring pages. He has colouring books, painting projects and so on that help him through difficult days. As carers, people lose the ability to do the things they really wish for. However, adopting a new approach can help them to do different things for themselves. They may or may not be remunerated for it but the distraction availed them by such activities make the activity “their” own thing to do amidst the uncertainties posed by the caring role they face daily. So we technically begin to find ways to create a yearning for what surrounds us or begin to learn to wish for new things to sustain and distract us not only from our current circumstance as carers but also from our inability to live the original dream. It so happens that we tend as humans to keep chasing either what we do not or cannot have. In order to cope with an otherwise stressful caring role (where one’s well-being is absolutely more fragile than they realise), we need to find a way to distract ourselves away from our inherent human tendency to chase what we do not have. This idea can allow us to find and trap happiness even momentarily. In due course one can create lots of “moments of […]

Hospital life : The carers’ loss of self

What am I doing here? Amamda wondered as she sat in the reception at the City hospital. She remembered walking in through the door earlier on. It was supposed to be a routine check up to see why her blood result came back high for vitamin B12. She wondered if she had walked in through the wrong door. Amamda was a 35year old mum of two lovely boys. She was in a very good place in her life. The boys had finally started school- big school. It was time to start focussing on her for once. She was not sure what to do with all the time she suddenly had. What she knew though, was that she was going to have fun. Adi was the man of her dreams. They had been married for 10 years. They first met back at university and again during their placement at the local hospital. Adi was a medical doctor and Amanda was a nurse. They often met in the car park. It always seemed like they worked the same shifts. Although in different departments, it was not unusual to cross each others’ paths daily. It was a small hospital after all. They struck their relationship one day at a colleague’s party. It wasn’t long before they became an item. After seeing each other for a year, Adi proposed. Their wedding was the talk of the hospital. They invited everyone to Greece where they tied the knot. It was a lovely weekend away for nearly everyone in the office. To be fair, they all needed it with the kind of hours they worked. The only people who missed out were the ones who had shifts that weekend. Amamda smiled as she remembered her nuptials. She was not sure why she was having these thoughts. She knew she was scared. She wished Adi was with her but he couldn’t have been. He was babysitting the boys because she had to attend this appointment. It was a mere formality- this appointment. Her doctor just wanted the specialist in the hospital to go through the blood test results with her. She remembered chatting with Adi an hour earlier. They had an argument about what pyjamas was better for the boys because the weather was a bit warm. As they argued and giggled, the house landline rang. Adi picked it cursing under his breath as he did. “Are you expecting a phonecall this afternoon?”, he asked “No dear, just pick up quickly before it cuts off “, Amamda said feeling a bit irritated by Adi’s constant moaning over picking the house phone. Sometimes, she wondered why they bothered paying for the landline if no one cared to pick it up. “Pimmmm Pimmm”, the phone buzzed quietly. “Hello”, Adi said Silence… “It’s your call”, Adi announced triumphantly as he handed back the phone to Amamda. He dashed out the living room. He needed to sort this Pyjamas mix-up out so the boys could get an early night while he tidied up some work. “Hello… Amamda here, who is this please?” “Oh hi, Mrs Oki, Is it ok to call you Amamda?” ,the caller asked “Yes, certainly”, Amamda replied “I am Dr Gupta from the City hospital. I was wondering if you were running late as your appointment was for 4pm. It has just gone past four now”, the caller informed her. “Oh dear, I beg your pardon because I completely forgot”, Amamda said apologetically. “Can you still make it today? Only the next appointment is 3 months away. I can wait another half hour for you”, Dr Gupta said kindly. “Oh that is very kind of you. I shall be there shortly”, Amamda said thankfully “See you soon then”, Dr Gupta concluded. “Ok, see you…and thanks” Amamda said finally and hung up. It was after that phone call that Amamda rushed off and found herself sitting in this room. She had followed the directions the Dr gave her during the phone call. She remembered that he did say it was the Macmillian unit. He also said it was directly opposite Uriah Ward for clarity. She looked up on the wall behind the receptionist who had asked her to sit here earlier just to be sure and the sign still read “MACMILLIAN UNIT”. She was definitely in the right place. It would have been a shame to keep the nice doctor waiting. …to be continued. Those who read this also clicked on others like it here Photo credit: Pixabay

The appointment Part 1

My relationship with Flora started sixteen months ago. I was initially troubled about this whole idea but at the same time eager to keep it secret from my wife and three grown children. The relationship blossomed beyond my imaginations and i wholeheartedly looked forward to our meetings with much gusto!! Flora my midnight lover is the sweetest thing after lollipop. The love we shared was equal to none. It never lacked a spark. Poppy-love  is a speck when compared with the undiluted love between Flora and yours truly. We had memorable moments anytime i had her in my mouth. I kept Flora away from the reach of unwanted adversaries (my wife and kids). I made sure her ambience lacked nothing. She has been my everyday solace and escape from this hot planet set on fire by humans.  No day has elapsed without me having a taste of her ever since i met her at the shops in the ever busy Trident mall in Cardiff. Sadly, our love went sour last night when i came back from work. There had been a power failure all day and nobody was around to have it fixed. Flora had lost her cool and wasn’t in any mood to cheer me up.I couldn’t have her that night as a result and that made me sick. To be frank, i was miserable all evening resulting in me having nightmares when i finally slept. I reached for Flora in my dreams to no avail. I was shattered , cried all through the moments of rejection in the dream and woke up sweating profusely. As i opened my eyes today, i prayed and vowed to always keep her sweet at all cost. I rushed to the secret room we shared only to find that Jonathan my nephhew was all over Flora.. I almost exploded with rage but held my steam as he explained the whole room was smelling when he walked in and had to empty my Flora yogurt in the bin….. Dr Love as we all call him is one of our WH writers. He is a professional by day and clutches his pen and paper by night… Thanks for reading. Do you know that you can now submit a post like this? To find out how, click here. Perhaps you fancy reading from others in the community? Find other articles here. Thank you Photo credit; Pixabay

Flora my midnight lover… By Dr Love Asiok

I wish I could take all the pain, all the hurt, all the struggles you have all been through all this time. I wish I could wipe it all away and make everything okay I wish I could tap you, wake you up and then we will all be happy that it was all a dream. But my love it is real, so real it hurts so bad. I can’t do that- make it go away as much as that is all I want to do. What I can do though is take your hand in mine and sit right here beside you. Although I am miles away I will do my best to be here for you as best as I can. What I can do is be here for you and ask you to let me know what you want me to do What I can do is pray for you and all the family especially during this trying time. What I can do is stand by you and make you know that I care too. This life is a puzzle with more questions than answers. It is ok to feel relieved by the knowledge that she is now gone, now free, now at peace It is ok to know that she has no more pain and she is now at rest It is ok to be reassured that because she lived a good life, she must be now resting with our lord It is ok to lay awake at night in tears and only long for her It is ok to wonder where she is now and if she is fine there It is ok to wish you could see her one last time to tell her how much you love her But one thing is sure she knows and never doubted how much you all cared for her She is not alone but in a better place where she can soar like an eagle Though you are far from her, she is in a better place where nothing can hold her back. Though we can’t see her now, she is waiting for us until we are all reunited with her never to be parted again Though she was weak and frail, she is now beautiful again. She is now stronger than she ever was. She is now our angel interceding especially for us all What we can do now is remember her as she was. What we have now are all the memories of her from the first time we set our eyes on her and felt her warmth to the moment    we said goodbye. Keep in mind that when the ones we love answer the sweet call. They are set free. No longer   trapped in a body, in a place or restricted by time. So we can carry them around with us in our hearts and never be far away from them. Let us not dwell mainly on all her pain and tears (though we will never lose sight of them). Let us at this time remember all her laughter, all her achievements, all her successes, all her struggles ,all her joys. Let us not only remember the pictures of her that were the most recent ones Let us not only dwell on the pain we could not save her from. Let us not only remember the things that make us cry. We will celebrate her life in total. Let us flick through the album that was her whole life….every day, every moment both those we shared with her and those she had by herself I cannot imagine the way you all feel now. But I can assure you that it will get better. There will be smiles again in your home when you think about her. Time will make everything better for you all. Try not to drown in this grief as large and as deep as it is. Don’t suffer alone… Let   those you love in. They only want to help. The only want to be there for you in the way they can. They may not always get it right but at least let them try. It is true that we all may not know how you feel but it doesn’t stop us all caring. If you reach out we will be here to catch you, to hold you. But we too on our part will let you work through your emotions and feelings the best way that you can. Only know that I am here if you need me. God will bless and console you during this difficult time. May her beautiful soul and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God Rest in Peace….. Amen Thank you for reading. You may also enjoy some of my musings here Photo credit: Pixabay  

Take heart my love…

Hi everyone. Thanks for tuning in again today for another Nigerian film review. You know how we do it! I tell you a little bit about a film I have watched and we check on our PASS scale to see what the film scores. Today, the film under review is called “My sister’s cross” I was very excited as soon as I saw Queen Nwokoye as one of the actresses in this film. My guess was that she was going to be a trouble making gbagbati as usual. However on this occasion, she was rather a peace maker. Well a type of peace maker. Yes I say a type of because she was a no nonsense peacemaker. In fact no sooner had I adjusted to her kindness than she got provoked into a heated argument with her step mum and your guess is as good as mine regarding her reaction. Well, I will get you up to speed. Queen Nwokoye acted as Nwanneka who had two sisters Nwando and Chizaram. She appeared to be the bread winner because the first scene showed her splitting firewood and doing a rather manual manly job. She lived with her sisters in her deceased father’s compound. However, on the other wing of the house was her step mum Achalugo who had two children Ikenna and Nmeri. Her son was all for family peace and unity. However his mum Achalugo and his sister did everything to cause chaos and anarchy between their section of the family and Nwanneka’s. Achalugo the step mum tried to stop Nwanneka and her sisters from rightfully feeling free in their home. She even tried to stop them cultivating their late father’s land but did not succeed in convincing the elders ndi ichie. They urged them all to live in peace. Queen loved her sisters so much to the point of turning down several marriage proposals from well meaning suitors. She did not want to be distracted from giving her siblings the care and attention they needed since they were all orphans. In the end, Her sisters later moved on positively with their lives. Chizaram won a scholarship for further sponsored study while Nwando got married to a rich man. She was genuinely pleased. However shortly after her sisters moved on, she stopped hearing from them. A visit to the city to find out about their welfare led to the discovery of some harsh realities about the true character of her sisters. This had harsh consequences for her and in the end she paid an ultimate price. The film unfolded nicely. The storytelling was quite fair. There were a few unnecessary scenes because they did not need 5 parts to tell this story. I think the film could have done with extra editing. In my opinion it would have saved time and made the story more interesting. I feel the storyline was a bit exaggerated and so I did not find the conclusion very believable. All in all it was a good watch.As you know, that is my opinion. You will have to watch it and tell me what you feel.  Am I being too hard on them? As for sound quality, it was ok. No disharmony whatsoever between audio and visuals. I also thought that despite the film length, it was engaging and the scenes flowed nicely. The acting was very well done. The actors were all believable. There were a few newcomers but honestly they did themselves proud. There is always room for improvement but for today, we can pass them on that one.So for what you have been waiting for. The PASS scale Picture&Production  2** Acting                        3*** Storytelling                2** Sound                         3*** Overall, the film unanimously gets a 3*** from all of us here at Whispering hope. You can watch the film for free on Youtube here. Don’t forget to come back to tell us what you think. Photo credit: Pixabay    

Film review: My sisters cross

Without play at GOSH, the hospital will be a mere brick wall filled with injections, medications procedures and ultimately “PAIN” for our children. They will otherwise be left frightened and confused about the meaning of all they have to cope with on a daily basis here at GOSH. Play helps mirror the intended reality that every person should rightfully experience especially in their childhood when the best memories that carry one through life are forged. Unfortunately, illness and disease try to snatch these away from our innocent children but the existence of play here at GOSH, means that the horribleness is reduced and at times eliminated from the lives of our children. Play achieves this by creating the ability for children to escape their present and sometimes entrapping realities. It then catapults them into an imaginative realm where they can feel safe. During play, children can calmly relax and be at peace. At GOSH this experience is guided painstakingly by the play specialists. The constant use of play to assist patients here at GOSH helps create a new type of reality for our children. It helps them forge new positive connections with the staff involved in their care. It reduces the confusion that leads to fear in a young mind regarding the incessant interruptions and interventions needed to keep them safe. Play also provides a conducive atmosphere for patients to interrelate and communicate appropriately. Oftentimes play is intended to be a distraction for our children. However in reality, it adds to the enrichment in the quality of life that our children become privileged to experience by being here. Endless tools, toys, materials etc are employed by the play specialists to excite, engage, entertain and educate them. At GOSH, there are no gimmicks the only effort required for the children to benefit from play is to simply but participate in the various activities planned and set before them consistently by these play geniuses. The fact that every play tailored and customised to suit each child makes it even more special and memorable to each participant. It creates a more personal and specific activity for each child to look forward to every time. Play has most importantly become an invaluable coping mechanism for children here at GOSH- especially for those in pain. Sometimes and unfortunately when pain re-emerges despite medication, play can become the next option for some children. The distractive nature of play can be a subtle medium for alleviating an otherwise endless cycle of suffering for some of these children. In this way, play becomes transformed into a tool of respite for these ailing ones. It can be the only reason that a child smiles, shrieks, brightens up and even gives the littlest reaction amidst a trying episode in their day’s journey here at GOSH. Play once more, provides a hopeful reassurance that the flame of life will be kept aglow in our children against all odds. For us parents and carers, we are not left out of the play experience provided at GOSH. We indirectly feed off the positive energy we witness in our children as they perform and enjoy each activity. That smile, that joy we see as the children play always makes each moment spent at GOSH more hopeful. After all their joy is our joy and all we live for. These play geniuses extend the care for our children to us (parents and carers) by carrying us along. They equally provide us with distractions and play materials. The play areas also create calming and relaxing escapes for parents and carers. All these remind us never to lose sight of the inner child within despite our individual circumstances. In the end, we too, like our children find that if we can keep playing we will not be held down but propelled by our challenges. So yes! Play does matter to us all and we are blessed to be surrounded by one of the best play teams in the world! THIS ARTICLE IS SPECIALLY DEDICATED TO THE PLAY TEAMS ON THE WARDS, THE HOSPITAL SCHOOL & ACTIVITY CENTRE AT GREAT ORMOND STREET HOSPITAL FOR THE GREAT WORK THEY DO DAILY. Thank you for reading Photo credit: Pixabay People who read this article enjoyed many others in the series.

Importance of play in a hospital- The Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) case

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You Lord who knows the hearts of all men, show which one of these ones you have chosen to take the place in the apostolic ministry from which Judas turned away to go his own place (Acts 1:24-25). This is an interesting verse showing the disciples carried on depending fully on Jesus even after the resurrection. In the past Jesus had told them to love one another as he had loved them. He taught them that to keep his commandments, they had to remain in his love (John 15:9-10). They knew that when Jesus was in their midst, he always turned to his father for guidance. Even when it was nearly impossible for him, he still stayed in his father’s love. Jesus famously asked for God’s will and not his own will at the garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:42). So the disciples already had the perfect example in Jesus. Although they may have had their favourite candidate to choose when the time to replace Judas came, they knew better than to let their will prevail. They knew in humility to let Jesus choose. In their minds, there was no difference to them whether Jesus was physically there or not. While Jesus was still with them, he told them that he was the one who chose them. They did not choose Jesus (John 15:16). In the old Testament God also told Jeremiah that before he was born he knew him (Jer 1:5). He also said that before his birth he sanctified and chose him to be a prophet. The bible makes us understand that we love God because he loved us first(1John4:19). So even in the house of God where we are all called to serve God in different ways and ministries, it is always worth remembering that only few are chosen (Matt 22:14). These few are not chosen by men but by God. It was God who chose all the prophets and kings of old. God still makes those choices today the only problem as Christians is that we tend to rush in with our choices first and seek God’s face last. We forget that he decides and has the final say. When the disciples sought God’s choice at the start, God chose Matthias. Sometimes God chooses us for a mission and we run away. Jonah is one typical example. God chose him to go to Nineveh to warn them about their wickedness. Jonah decided to run away. He did not want to go. He wanted to do his own will. But God sent a storm and just as the ship Jonah was fleeing in was about to sink, Jonah was thrown into the sea and swallowed by a fish. He was forced to surrender to God’s command and the fish regurgitated him on dry land. Subsequently he went to proclaim God’s word in Nineveh. Today we do not always witness such dramatic selections. However daily we are faced with choices. Choices surrounding answering God’s call or not. Like the disciples, we must go back to Jesus in prayer and allow him make the choices. We have to consciously remember to always seek his will first in all things before we set off. This way, our journey will be made easier. Thank you for reading. You can find more of my meditations here. Photo credit: Pixabay

May his will be done…

In this our era you will agree that compared to the previous generation, there has been a rise in the number of working class women. It does not even matter whether they are educated or not. There just is an awakening in the female species in our country. As a result, many young ladies grow with a need to fulfill this desire. However, for many different reasons, this can be a reality that is either not actualised or thwarted due to marriage and having kids. Women constantly, like their mothers before them, find themselves feeling “forced” to put the family needs first. Is this really a bad thing? Is it the end of the world? Does not working nine to five or having a business mean a woman is unemployed and less of a Y2K compliant new-school woman? Let us look at a typical scenario. Dumebi is a young beautiful woman whose husband is equally young and resourceful. He earns well enough (no make that “earns exceedingly well” by all standards) and cares for the family, providing anything money can buy for their comfort and enjoyment. They live in their personal house, have two other rental duplexes in Lagos. In addition to this, they have their own house in the village. Cars, holidays and everything they need are at their disposal. She has two sons and a daughter. In fact life is good…  However, she found herself very unhappy recently. The object of her sadness being her inability to contribute equally to the family pot “financially”. Her husband although in the dark regarding her true feelings neither complained about being the sole provider nor did he even want her to lift a finger. She had graduated from a reputable university and earned herself a degree however, she felt under-utilised in her role as a full time house wife/ mum. She was so troubled by these feelings that she called her friend Stephanie one morning. Stephanie listened as she poured her heart out. She expressed strongly her feelings of helplessness to the situation as well as the fact she found herself extremely unhappy as a result of these thoughts. Stephanie probed to see if possibly some peer or family pressures may have led to Dumebi’s strong desire to gain employment and contribute to the family. It appeared not to be the case at all. It was just a personal need to feel “useful” as Dumebi described it. She had full control of the family accounts, ATM cards and her husband was accountable to her for even his own spending yet the fact that he earned all the money bothered her. As usual, talking exhaustively helped Dumebi release the inner feelings of helplessness and sadness that she felt. From the scenario above, you can see that Dumebi does not even see her role in the home as “useful” simply because it is not tangibly remunerated. This situation is a popular one mainly among women. There seems to be a growing need to assume an earning role. I will say that as part of a couple myself, communication is key. It seems a bit sad that Dumebi’s husband was very oblivious of the unhappiness lurking behind her smiles daily. The fact that she did not feel confident enough that he would understand her feelings also says something about the communication level in their relationship. However, by not telling him, she was not giving him a chance to be aware of her feelings. She simply assumed that he would not understand her need for usefulness. Every human being needs to feel “occupied”. The word occupation is derived from the root word occupy Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines occupy as a term that means “to fill or use ( an amount of time)”. While the same dictionary defines occupation as “(1) the work that a person does; a job or profession, (2) An activity that a person spends time doing” among other definitions. Just because an activity is not paid for does not make it less of an “occupation”. It takes up one’s time and the person expends effort and at times intangible resources like time to accomplish such an activity successfully. The problem Dumebi has is that her role as mum and wife in the family seems irrelevant simply because she is not being paid a salary. She needs a salary which she can physically see and contribute to the family financial pot to satisfy her “usefulness” criteria. However, what she fails to see is that she is performing a role that is invaluable and necessary for the smooth running of the home. In her role, she sees to the day to day care that the children require. She is available to give adequate attention to the children. Provide a warm hub for every member of the family to return to. She is in charge of housekeeping and basically turning the otherwise brick walled house into a homely haven. Her children in return are well behaved and mannered, her husband is loving and she creates a secure stress relieving home for him. In reality, her role is even more difficult than her husband’s role. She does not go on break or leave like he does with his work. For even when the family took vacations, women like her remain on full duty, ensuring the travel plans, packing, shopping, hotel reservations and all the endless requirements are met. If you find yourself, a loved one or even your wife experiencing these feelings, encourage her to hang in there and try to reappraise her feelings about her role as mum and wife. It is a necessary and praiseworthy sacrifice whose remuneration is not quantifiable. In the case of Dumebi in our above scenario, she was quite fortunate that her husband could meet all their needs, care for and love her totally without dropping any hints of frustration or pressure whatsoever on her. For some of my other women who are not so lucky, they joggle the pressures of earning a living with […]

Family matters: Does staying at home with the kids make you jobless?

Guess what? Today we have a new film on our review Radar. It’s a whole new genre of Nigerian movie. Do you know why? That’s because it is a Yoruba film. Yes o you heard right! The Yoruba tribe is one of the main Nigerian Tribes. There are lots of tribes in Nigeria. However, for some unknown reason, Nigeria as a country categorizes all the tribes into three. They are called the “major” tribes. Please don’t ask me why because I simply have no idea. The tribes are Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo. Now the film for today done in the Yoruba Language. It is of course a language not only spoken by Yorubas but popularly common in the Western part of Nigeria where the Yorubas predominantly reside. The good news is that you do not even have to understand or speak the language to watch this movie. I don’t either. The viewing is made understandable by the genius of subtitling. This was thoughtfully adopted in this movie. So sit back, get comfy as we prepare to dive right into today’s movie. It is called OSUPA which means Moon in English- or so they said! Yes the main protagonist Tokunbo is portrayed by the beautiful Bukky Wright. For those of us who regularly watch Yoruba movies, she is known as one of the fantastic actresses. The film tells a story about what I like to think of as the trials of this lady- Tokunbo. She was a successful actress who got framed when a gang of female robbers were caught while on rampage. Further questioning during detention led the gang to name Tokunbo as their ring leader and sole financier. They claimed that she was responsible for sponsoring and mentoring them. Tokunbo was then detained while on set and later imprisoned. This led to an ordeal that sees her path cross with a Lawyer. He fought her corner in court but whether or not she won the case will be left for you to find out. I hate to be the one to let the cat out of the bag… A few years after the ordeal, Tokunbo found herself with the lawyer. You know the one who helped her earlier?  Yes that one!. Well they began a relationship but shortly afterwards he took ill. After seeking medical help, things took an ugly turn because his health continued to deteriorate. They decide to seek spiritual help but not without paying a heavy price. One that led to consequences for Tokunbo. Tokunbo’s joy unfortunately was short-lived but the outcome of the lawyer’s ordeal had severe consequences for their relationship. I personally was glued to the screen while watching this one. The story is told in 2 parts and rightly so as there were many twists and turns throughout the plot. I thought the production was very good. For a Nigerian movie on home level it fared well. However, the same could not be said for it on an international level. There was and still is room for a lot of improvement. So now for the PASS review Picture&Production  2** Acting                        4**** Storytelling                3*** Sound                         2** Overall, I will give this film a 3***. Some work still needs to be done on the film production in order for it to measure up with its counterparts on the international scene. Many great actors were featured in the film. Big names like Muyiwa Ademola, Bukky Wright, Fathia Balogun, Lanre Hassan just to mention a few names. Yinka Quadri produced this film and did a fantastic job. You can watch the film for free on Youtube Thanks for joining us for another film review and see you next time…Chao! Photo Credit Pixabay  

Film review: Osupa The Moon

Hello again and thank you for joining me here for another film review. As you know watching home videos as we normally refer to Nigerian movies is my new pass time. This week,  I decided to add some specific elements to the film reviews I do. It is just to give you more appreciation of the film and also give you an idea of various aspects of the film i terms of what to expect. I shall be using 5 criteria. I will like us to call it the PASS criteria. PASS stands for Picture&Production Acting Storytelling Sound PASS sounds good to me and I hope it will spice things up. So let us see if this fill will PASS our review… See what I did there? PASS ! Anyway without taking up more time, let’s talk about this film. My first thoughts when I saw the popular “Andy” acting a film called “I used my wife for rituals” was whaaaat? Not again! Well every Nigerian knows that Andy (Kenneth Okonkwo) became popular in those days for his portrayal of Andy as Merrit’s husband in a film called “Living in bondage”. He used her for ritual money and it backfired. If I remember correctly, it ended very badly with torments and madness….. Well, back to the film under review. It is fair to say that the perfect actor was chosen for the role. However, although the theme mirrors every other one previously acted in this genre (condemning such money ritual and desperate money making acts by people), it unfolded very nicely. It started very slowly with the protagonist Martins meeting many misfortunes. He went from fire gutting all his goods to losing his next set of merchandise to one misfortune after another. His wife Tessy attempted to borrow money in order to resurrect her husband’s misfortunes. That attempt was stopped in its tracks by roadside robbers who snatched her bag. This left the couple in an even worse mess. In addition to these tragedies, they now had to deal with endless debts and embarrassments from various lenders. The most prominent harassment was the one from Tessy friend. Rita was the one who lent her the particular money which was snatched from her. The one they never even got to use as a result of the unfortunate act. She went as far as using the couple’s five year childlessness to score a cheap point. She tried to imply that they kept mismanaging funds because they had no children to bring up. Finally the couple sought solution to their problems spiritually by attending a church. The pastor welcomed and prayed for them. In no time his wife conceived but their sufferings were not abated. Things got to a head for xxx when his pregnant wife had to go hungry for him to feed. She presented her food to her husband upon his return from a hard day in the grind. Without any hint that the food set before him was actually meant for her, he descended on the food hungrily. As he started to show his appreciation for the well prepared meal he had just devoured, he noticed her deep yawn. It struck in him the realisation that it was more than a tired yawn but a hungry yawn. He became very upset with her. This led to a chain of unforeseeable events that are brought to a head after the birth of their son. The film is a must watch. I must warn you about the sound quality of this film. In the beginning there seems to be a disharmony between the audio and visuals. It lasts for over 45 minutes before resolving itself. As usual, patience and tolerance will be your key companions while watching this movie as with most Nigerian home videos in this category. There are a few unnecessary scenes but do not let that put you off. Just focus on the story. So now for the PASS review Picture&Production  3*** Acting                        4**** Storytelling                3*** Sound                         2** Overall I will give this film a 3*** on my PASS scale. It is fair to say that there is still room for improvement in the picture production and sound department. 49 minutes is a long time to wait for the sounds to align with the visuals. However, there were nice believable effects in the secret cult scenes. The story line was good. Nothing really new there but the story telling could have been better. There were a few irrelevant scenes that could have been cut out in my opinion. This story is in 3 parts. Each of the parts lasted for 1hour 45mins. Honestly if I was not so bored myself I would not have sat so patiently. However all in all, it was a lovely film with great believable actors. You can find the film to watch for free on Youtube here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Je0_YEvKJGI when you have the time and please come back to tell me what you think about it. Thanks and see you next time! Photo credit: Pixabay

Film review: My wife for rituals

I am going to be brutally honest with you. I sat across you on that sunny afternoon listening to you talk about Him and your current situation and it was the most painful thing I’ve had to watch because you certainly deserve better. You were hurting and there was nothing I could do, I hated that feeling. I always felt I could put a smile on your face no matter how bad you were feeling, that was one of the things I was good at. When you had a bad day you would run straight to me and I would be myself all through but you wouldn’t stop laughing and giggling like a little girl. Moments like this I always treasured. So, to have you sit across me and tell me how sad and bitter He had made you feel and all I could do was listen. All through the time you spoke all I could see was the hurt in your eyes, how dejected you had become. You were resigned to your fate and it was tearing you up from within. You needed an outlet, an escape, I used to be that outlet but today all I could do was watch and listen to you pour your heart and soul out. Something that wasn’t very common with you. You would tell me about your horrible day at work or the difficulty you had coming back home in this crazy town and I would make jokes just to make you feel better. Yet I would always have to probe further just for you to tell me something really personal that was on your mind and now that you came to me with your biggest challenge, I wasn’t ready or I was clueless as to what to say to you. Days went by, weeks even and I still had not recovered from watching you look so gloom, so defeated, all because of Him. I would apologize that I did not check in to see how you were faring because I handled this encounter differently this time around and I couldn’t bear to see you this torn. But for you to question my friendship that really hurt me. I have been here for you for every single step of the way since we have known each other, even when you know how difficult it is for me to do just that. Or do you think it is easy watching the one you want, be with someone else? Your happiness was all that mattered and I decided as long as you were happy, I was okay with that. Now you are not even letting me explain or talk to you, you feel that cutting me off is the solution to make yourself feel better. Is it because this time around I didn’t sympathize with you as you hoped? I did not cheer you up since that will only be a temporary solution to what you are going through. Did I really hurt you that much or are you just deflecting? I don’t think it’s fair for you to treat me like the enemy. Anyway I guess you need time to yourself. You need time to sort through your issues and I suggest you face it head on and stop hiding behind whatever you call “this thing” we have. I won’t have it this time around, I want you to know that I would continuously be praying for your marriage and I hope you can sort it all out soonest. You know I will always be here. Thank you for reading. You may also like others from this series About the author : Ezimen is a professional in the daytime. He loves writing, travelling and having fun! Do you know that you can now submit a post like this? To find out how, click here. Perhaps you fancy reading from others in the community? Find other articles here. Thank you Photo credit: Pixabay

She knows I love her but she is his wife…now she hates me.

The beauty of a precarious and tumultuous stage in life is that it becomes the time when all the lessons life intends to teach are actually learnt. It is the time when you are down and out. It is the time you finally begin to “pay attention”. The only thing left to do apart from wallow in self-pity is to start to use all our self-will to pull us out of the bad situation we find ourselves in. I personally have found that the only way for me to make any sense of my own life is to see life through everything else around me. Feed off new energies- positive energies. Since life has decided to keep pinning me down I have decided to keep rising up. I can now finally see. I used to live a very fast paced life. At the break of every dawn, it always felt like a whistle was blown. It was a rush to prepare to start my day, a rush out of the door into the car hoping to bit the traffic (which was silly now I think about it because I never managed to!). I got to work, rushed to hit all my targets, rushed my break, rushed to close in order to get home early enough. I was always so knackered at the end of the day. Honestly, I even rushed through sex at night with the hubby just to get me some sleep and start the whole cycle again. It was like I became the hamster in the cage. All I did was rush, rush, rush. It gave me a buzz. I even seemed to enjoy moaning about how stressful my life was because I honestly made no effort to slow down. Well, as soon as life started gradually to pin me down, the first emotions I felt were not relief from rushing but grief. I complained about my life until that point but the minute its course was set to change, I fought it. I tried to combine my work with caring for my son. I kept telling myself I could do it. It was hard to accept the reality that my son was not going to be safe in any regular crèche. All I could see was everything I could not have. Everything I was missing by being a carer. Everything I ever really wanted was slipping away- and very fast. With each passing day as my son’s health grew direr, I began to confront the prospect of giving up my job. It was emotionally strangulating- until I began to pay attention. You see, the secret of survival is to stop looking for what you want. Especially when you know that you cannot have what you really want. Stop searching. It’s like when you look too hard for your keys, you never find them. How about when you try too hard to remember a name or event, you never remember- until you let go. As you tilt your attention completely away from the puzzle of the lost key or forgotten name, suddenly, you will remember. Amidst your new quest, it slips right back into your consciousness when you least expect it to in a kind of eureka fashion. At my lowest moment, I decided to stop trying too hard to be who I wanted to be but to embrace who I had suddenly become. It was hard to find anything to do with all the time I spent beside my son both at home and in hospital. There was so much time. Don’t get me wrong, I was very busy in reality as a carer- I was doing feeds, changing nappies, giving medicines, nursing my son back to health and so on. However, I felt idle inside as a person. Deep within, I felt like I was wasting away. I remember thinking about if this was now going to be me? After all the years in university? All the years building my career? All my dreams? It was weighing me down way more than all the physical exertion of caring for Fred.The physical aspects of caring became my only means of escape from my crumbling reality– all because I was not paying attention. I began one day to notice during one of my walks one spring morning that a small leaf had grown on a tree. I suddenly discovered a trail of slugs too along the path- that made me smile each time I passed by. I found myself looking forward to seeing as much of them as the weather could permit. I noticed a cat along another path every morning and found myself wondering about it on days when it failed to appear. For the first time, I began to SEE my surroundings. I had all the time in the world now. Suddenly, a new world seemed to open up to me. I began to see the rips in shirts and tops around the house. I opened my needlework set for the first time in ages. . I redid my husband’s trousers meant for the bin and converted it into shorts and in no time, I acquired a sewing machine. That gadget can now testify to completing many a project with me. I went from doing up my interiors to redecorating for friends who have to date given me endless referrals. I used to love colouring and drawing as a child. Hmmmm, I had an idea to revisit that as well. I changed my walk direction the next morning towards the book store and bought a simple colouring set to get me started- nothing fancy. In no time, I was colouring so much and getting a real buzz. Before long, I was busy borrowing books from the library. I suddenly had time to pursue other aspects of my life that otherwise lay idle. I suddenly stopped only having ideas but also bringing them to life. It was an empowering feeling. Surely the boost my life needed- like […]

Wipe your eyes and pay attention

Journey to self discovery tends to be a selfish journey. To discover self is to put self first in every decision. It means to discover what self loves and what self hates. It can lead to consistently doing more of the things self prefers and less of the things that cause self distaste. Putting self at the centre of every decision de-emphasises sacrifice. Fortunately some of the best things in life have become available to all to enjoy because some people have put themselves second-sacrificed. Freedom was fought for all because some people sacrificed even their lives for the sake of the fold. Sometimes these sacrifices endangered their loved ones. They did not let even this fact put them off because the good of everyone else was their focus. Two lovers can never fully experience the fullness of their love if there is no sacrifice of self. Each person surrenders him/herself to the other for the good of both. They learn what the other likes or hates. These may not necessarily reflect their individual preferences. However, if their love is to transcend time, they will both have to keep sacrificing from time to time. The advantage of expressing love in this way is that if each person is sacrificing, each person will invariably be receiving. Similarly, if each person is receiving it means that each person is being loved perfectly. Sacrifice is the true ingredient that helps love thrive because it entails tolerance and accommodation of each others’ flaws. A journey of self discovery can prove dangerous because it may compromise love- true love. Even the love of God for man entailed sacrifice. This sacrifice was the final proof of his love for man. It was the last straw that expressed his intentions for man after man’s fall from grace. Sin was man’s choice. Death was the consequence; a deserving consequence of man’s actions. God did not need to set up the sacrifice of his son to save mankind but he did. As the perfect example of love, he did not let this fact stop him. How can one claim to truly love another if there is no sacrifice involved? By focusing solely on oneself…in the name of self discovery, a wall is built to protect and preserve self. Unless this wall is erected around oneself, self remains unselfish, kind, truly loving… penetrable. Once self is penetrated, then that self can be changed-compromised…Compromise entails sacrifice. Sacrifice brings back love into the picture. When what I want takes centre stage, then what you need becomes secondary. Everyday lived in love…with love…showing love…expressing love… needs to involve a constant sacrifice of self. We can never fully love, if love is not blind. Love has to be blind… to faults… to flaws… to inadequacies… to be perfect. Love passes through pain in order to forge the unique bond to be treasured by the hearts beating together as one. To let go of this bond…is to let go of love. To let go of love…is to give in to self. We can never truly express ourselves fully in reality. To do that will be totally selfish and possibly lead to imposing ourselves on others. Total selfishness only leads to chaos. Freedom of expression is almost always a farce. There will always be limits placed on our freedom of expression by civil society to protect rights of people and society. To express every whim we desire for ourselves may trample on other people’s rights. To trample is to encroach on their own right to an existence. For the sake of peace, even the most selfish will have to imbibe an element of restraint. Whether they want to or not. To adopt this restrain will entail a sacrifice by another person or cause in a live and let live kind of way. We make allowances for others no matter how little. To ignore this restraint and withdrawal from trampling on the rights of others for our selfish reasons will be to incur the wrath of the law in some cases. Next time we decide to build walls around ourselves in order to stamp ourselves on the rest of humanity, let us realise that we are putting off another light of love in this world. What right have we really got to demand selfishness if we ever expect any consideration to be made to accommodate us in anyway. When self rises, dominance is born. Meanwhile, dominance can only work because another person accepts the will of a selfish person. This can be for many reasons- love, fear, peace, bullying etc. What a selfish person fails to realise is that another person  sacrifices their desire “not to be dominated” in order to accommodate them. So remember as you rediscover yourself and put yourself at the centre of every decision you make that you may be trampling on someone else to make that dream come true for yourself… Thanks for reading. You can also check out other articles in this series… Photo credit: Pixabay.

The road to self discovery can be SELFISH

I promised last time to tell you all about the drastic step I took to help me finally decide whether or not to accept the gastrostomy device. Thank you for following the story right from the first part. Prior to the gastrostomy tube, my boy had a nasogastric tube fitted (It is that tube that goes from your nose into your stomach). It was a traumatic device to even insert. He seemed to pull it out nearly every hour. I also had to go back to the hospital every now and then to have it reinserted. It got to a point where I got trained to insert it at home. As a mum, that was a heartbreaking and traumatising thing to have to do to my child. Having a gastrostomy meant that this activity will become history in our home. Despite all the reasons in favour of accepting the gastrostomy device for my son I still did not want to consent to it. I even told you all about the feelings of worry I secretly nursed. I talked myself out of them one by one but still, I was hesitant. What was holding me back? I was so unsettled. It was fear! I knew I hated admitting it but it was simply fear! The fears were many… The fear that perhaps they were being too hasty… The feeling that it did not feel right that my son was to be fed through a hole in his stomach… The fear that he might react badly to having a foreign device sitting in his body. I was drowning in the sea of fear mixed with worry. “Perhaps he needed more time”, i thought. Having spoken with many parents, I knew it was not a wrong decision to make…but it was so hard to sign!… They had sworn by it. They testified to the improvement in the quality of life being experienced by their children post gastrostomy. They talked about how much easier it was. “How can it be easier to put a hole in a child’s stomach?”, I thought, “what if it got infected?”, I wondered, “it is a hole after all”. I could feel myself getting traumatised by the idea of the hole in the stomach. “Surely the nasogastric tube was better! No surgery was required and I could do it – albeit amidst horrible screams as many times as required”. One fateful evening while Fred was admitted into hospital I decided to walk in the shoes for that evening. It was just a thought… a scary one. (The fact that I considered it scary bothered me because it was something my son had to endure nearly on a daily basis, and worse still it dawned on me in that moment that although the gastrostomy could save him  from enduring all the pain, I was the only one preventing this respite). The resolve became stronger…I had to walk in his shoes! I called on the nurses and looking intently at them (secretly hoping that my request will not sound stupid enough to be discarded immediately), I requested for the nasogastric tube be inserted in my nose! I could see the look of pity in the eyes of the nurse-in-charge as she considered my request. She looked at me knowingly like she understood my dilemma. Then smiled at me and granted my request. As she walked away, she gave me a pat on the back and told me it was going to be arranged. “Get ready for it in an hour”, she said, “I wish you all the best of luck, because you’re going to need it!”. Surely it was not going to be a herculean task after all my son went through it every single day. I felt the nurse was being a bit dramatic. “Luck? , grrrrrrrr!”, I blew a raspberry. I began to feel quite excited as the hour approached. The prospect of experiencing what my son was going through made me happy because then at least I could now know for sure what all the fuss was about having a gastrostomy instead of the non-operation requiring nasogastric tube which i could insert for him as many times as he needed it. Finally the time arrived and I sat happily in the treatment room. About five nurses accompanied the nurse in charge. I wondered what all of them come from for. They all looked intimidating as the approached. Wearing sullen looks that seemed to say: are you sure you know what you’re about to do? I ignored their looks and focussed on the task at hand. I was told that all the nurses were there to restrain during me the process. “Fair enough”, I thought. I shrugged my shoulders in a away that meant “well, you have to do what you have to do!”. Then it began… The nurses held me, each nurse holding a limb. The last one held my head down. And the nurse in charge announced that she was starting. She brought out a massive tube. In that moment, it dawned on me that she had to bring a tube that was for adults. Not my son’s little tube. I bet it looked to me as it would have looked to my son. I was in horror as she approached with this tube looking at her each time. I imagined this was my son’s horror too every time I held him down and came at him with that tube. Then suddenly she started to inserted you down my right nose. It was okay to start with “that’s easy”, I thought. Suddenly it hit me right behind my nostril before my throat. I felt like I was going to die. I couldn’t breathe. I began to struggle and kick. Then the restrainers took over. I wanted to run away but they held me down as per my instruction (I remembered telling them not to let me go at any point no matter how I struggled because I […]

Hospital life : Does my child need a device? “Our gastrostomy case” Part 3

Hey there! It’s my first Nigerian film review and I am super excited. I have been watching so many films lately to pass the time here at the HQ. I thought that it would be a good idea to share the fun with you. It is not normally all serious here at the Whispering hope HQ. This weekend, I really enjoyed watching this film- Mysterious child. I had a nice relaxing afternoon watching it. I will normally wait a few days before reviewing a movie. However, that is not the case for this one. This film evoked very strong emotions within me. Sincerely, it was not the first time a home video had done justice to depicting the triumph of good over evil. However, in this particular film, there were many twists and turns. Mmeso a little girl born into the family of a retiree, appeared to have mysterious powers. She showed fearlessness and courage in the face of scary occurrences around her home. Isidinso was her elder sister who on the other hand was physically fearless defending her family in a warring fashion. Beating men up and warding off any physical threats to her father. Awele was the eldest. She was a soft hearted and peace loving member of the family whose kindness was constantly taken for a weakness. Their new home was in the village where the family had recently relocated to after her dad’s retirement. However, no sooner had they arrived than her father’s greedy younger brothers started their quest for all he had and held dear in terms of assets. Her father’s brothers made demands of him which included the re-sharing of a previously divided land. I really found it funny that they wanted their brother’s share of the family parcel of land re-shared to enable them harvest the cash crops. I remember thinking seriously? Palmfruits? cashcrops? Are we in stone-age? You just need to see this film to appreciate their level of desperation over Palm Kernel for ofe akwu!!! In the end, his refusal to oblige them had severe consequences for the family. His brothers decided to go to extreme lengths in their battle against him. The aftermath led to the self exile of Mmeso’s eldest sister Awele to save her life. She relocated to her friend’s house in the city against her mother’s wish for her to stay with family in the city. After wards, she fell out with her friend for being unable to grab the city opportunities at her doorstep. Now with all hope lost, she decided to find her way. She soon received some news that changed her life forever. Awele coincidentally met the village prince who took her into his home and revealed some home truths. Important facts that led her back home. Will she be able to save her family from impending disaster? Will her sister Mmeso rise up to defend the family spiritually? Will their only brother be found alive? You will have to watch by yourself in order to appreciate how the story unfolds. This film gets  5 stars from me. The audio and sound quality were excellent. The graphics – fireworks and otumokpor in this film were fantastically believable. You can find this film on Youtube by clicking on Part1 and Part2 You may also enjoy reading similar film reviews here Photo credit: Pixabay

Film review:The Mysterious child

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  I have had a few of my friends call to ask me what they are doing wrong to Mr Right because he has started to act up. He comes home tired and uninterested in them. I am not talking about the ones that come home very late in the night for no reason (that one is another matter!). I am rather referring to the Mr right that seem to have developed an aversion for you. He does not say he is uninterested but his body language hints otherwise. He says I love you so automatically that you wonder if he is just saying what you want to hear. You keep trying to get his attention but even when he gives it, you can tell that something is different. The gospel truth? It may not be anything you did. He may be going through a rough patch, a tough time at work or anything else but your fault. However, before we even start pointing one finger at him as ladies, do not lose sight of the fact that the rest of your four fingers may be validly pointing back at you. I believe that you can allow problems walk majestically into your relationship as soon as you lose sight of the fact that before you became wife or baby mama (as some are now referred to on social media) to this guy, you were his girlfriend, his chikito or better still his babe! Do you honestly still feel like his babe now? Do you think that all these extra levels you have developed your relationship to should diminish the fact that you are firstly and most importantly his girlfriend? The day you stopped seeing him as your boyfriend and feeling you were his mother, police and dictator was the day you crossed the line between marital bliss and perpetual sadness. Marriage is meant to and should only ever be a way to solidify and secure your relationship. I am not totally sure that it was intended to be the end of that special bond that you forged by having a relationship in the first place. You know that moment when one person asked, the other said yes and both fought tooth and nail to keep this relationship solid? Marriage is not meant to break that. Marriage is meant to transform you both into companions with a special bond (by the pre-existence of a relationship) not pull you apart. Do you remember the time of romance, butterflies, excitement, laughter, hot sex, experiments and pleasure between you both? If your marriage is not doing that, then join me as i take you through some simple steps you can take to get things right back on track. Have control over your children: If you have children already you will agree with me that as soon as they start arriving things change. I always liken my kids to a rash. They come either in trickles or at once to take over your whole life. If you do not control them, their need for your attention will spread until they encroach every aspect of your life including your relationship with your man. It is important to set out a routine for them to adhere to. One of the most important ones is the bedtime routine. Yes, bedtime! You have to start from an early age to put them to bed early. If not you will never have time for yourself (which by the way includes your relationship!) If your kids sleep at say 11pm, when will you ever have time for your man? The kids always come first but don’t forget that your relationship was existing first before they came along. They have to exist alongside every aspect of your life not overshadow other areas. That will not be fair to them and to you. You also have to make sure that they have their own space. If you lose control over where they sleep (by letting them sleep in your bed) how are you both going to engage in some adult play? So you see why a good grasp on your kids is the key to a happier relationship Start doing things together again: Doing things together is another important element that keeps your relationship flourishing. The pressures imposed on us by life mean that our relationships with our spouses tend to take the back seat. If you do not spend time together, you start to disconnect from each other. Can you remember how many activities you shared together as a couple when your courtship was in full swing? All those times helped create the bedrock for your relationship and ultimately, the marriage we are referring to here. I agree that it may be quite difficult to find time to go out now that the children are here. So by the time you put the kids to bed early for instance, you can watch a film together, have a meal together, snuggle up together (i did not say do anything else but at least enjoy the company of each other). Try to relax and unwind: This is an important element disappearing from most relationships. When stress levels are high due to the demands of day to day living, it seems impossible to achieve any form of relaxation. Apart from the health benefits of relaxation, it impacts positively on our relationships. You can play a nice soft music to chill out. Wind yourself down by having a bath just before your man retires for the day. That way you are not only relaxed but also very inviting when the time for serious business arrives. The nice fresh fragrance from your body will be a good calming attraction for him. With a relaxed mind and body, you can help dissipate the stress levels and even conquer your nagging tendency when your partner arrives. It is quite difficult to lash out on a calm person and cause offense Always create a conducive atmosphere: This is a very […]

8 ways to win your man back!

Last time, I told you about how difficult it was for me to consent to a gastrostomy operation for my son. He had been having difficulty feeding and things reached a climax with him becoming averse to all things food. It was clear that the way for him to proceed was to get help with his feeding. The doctors wanted him to have a gastrostomy but I was becoming more hesitant by the day. If you click here you will read all about it to help you catch up with the rest of us. Thanks for coming back this week. As promised, I feel that I am not alone in the world of indecision. Unfortunately, I could not help the feelings deep within which were stopping me from simply signing the forms for him to have the operation. Here are some of the things that bothered me : The Social aspect of having the device. I cannot help my feelings about the social aspect of having a gastrostomy or any other device for that matter. Sadly and a bit embarrassingly, this factor has more to do with me. You see, without wanting to be righteous, I was worried about how my son will come to be viewed by friends and family. All the people telling me that it did not matter had no children with gastrostomy devices or any issues whatsoever so how on earth could they understand my embarrassment. If you feel this way, please do not be too hard on yourself. You are not wicked or selfish. You are just simply human. Trust me, no one who signed up for parenthood factored in this scenario. So it is ok to feel worried about it. The truth in reality is that it really does not matter. People do not really care (or may be I should say people are indifferent) about it. Let the focus tilt back to your child. Try not to be distracted from the child. I find this re-focussing to be helpful. It helps us keep in mind what really matters when these kinds of decisions are made. How will my child blend in? This was also a worry for me. How my son will blend in with other children. Will he be treated differently? Will it be pulled at by the other kids at school? Will he be bullied? All these thoughts are normal. After all you are the parent and we all know how it is to have anything different at school and be picked on by others. The good news about the gastrostomy or any device is that it is medical and people tend to be very sympathetic and helpful about these things in reality. The teachers will always be around to look after your child when the time comes. Once again, staying focused on the outcome for your child will be the guiding and refocusing tool for your emotions. How are other children coping with the device? This was a question that kept plaguing me. I was very curious about the future outcomes for real children. I know you might wonder what that means. You see, every time doctors tell me about a desirable course of action for my son I can’t help but feel that those are the textbook kids in thick medical textbooks. I personally feel more reassured when I can see or hear from real people living out those courses of action. For example those living with the device. While it is not always possible to meet other parents and children, I avail myself of this opportunity where possible. I immediately started asking other parents and reading online forums which were filled with real feedback from parents. Everyone seemed to say their children’s outcomes improved drastically after having the device fitted. It was reassuring to know that the device delivered on its promise. Was it really easier to use? You know how they say if it is too good to be true… then maybe it is? Well, this was my new fear. It was so emotionally exhausting. It just felt like each time I conquered one fear, a new one came up. This was easy to solve. I simply started interviewing parents. One lovely thing about parents with sick children is how helpful they tend to be. Many parents I contacted shared their experiences with me. I was looking for information about how they as parents felt in terms of the difficulty or ease of use of the device. I found consistent and encouraging information in favour of accepting this device. Other general worries and questions. My last thing to do was to ask as many questions as possible before arriving at my decision. This is one of the best things you can do to put your mind at rest. The doctors and health professionals were always on hand to answer my questions. So you see, having worries about accepting a device for your child is not new and you are not alone. You need not worry alone. It may not even be a device you are worrying about accepting for your child. It may be anything else. As long as it is a decision regarding your child, it can be draining. We all worry about getting things wrong. It would be easier if parenting came with a hand book. I think the key things that work the most when you reach this type of decision dilemma for your child is Find out as much as you can about the issue. Remember that knowledge is power. Write down your questions as they arise. Ask questions wisely- make sure your questions are directed to the appropriate person on people. Don’t be too hard on yourself especially when you start to get emotional and sentimental. You are only human. Keep your focus on what is best for your child. It helps to curb your emotions regarding the issue.   After all the points I noted above, I was still unable to […]

Hospital life : Does my child need a device? “Our gastrostomy case” Part 2

Devotion to the sacred heart is the devotion to the essence of God.  It is a devotion to his core, his dwelling place. It is finding God in Christ where he lives. It is a devotion to a system of withdrawal and meditation in the hidden centre of God which is Christ. The word was made flesh and dwelt among us. The word was God. Therefore devotion to the sacred heart is devotion to God in the way that God chooses to reveal himself to us through Jesus Christ his son. To reach the heart of a person is to reach the very essence of that person. For one to reveal his heart to you, he shows you a face of himself that is hidden away from scrutiny. He shows you his very own essence. You can only truly know the person who allows you to enter his heart through their words, thoughts. It is by the expressions of their true and innermost feelings to you that you really get to know them. By this, we can safely imply that one who you are with for ages without knowing their heart is actually a stranger to you in disguise. In our journey with God, to know God is to enter his heart. By entering his heart, he is able to communicate his inner and deeper mysteries into our hearts. We can only ever know this heart and desire of God by knowing his word. His word is the bible. The bible reveals the deepest secrets about God. What he likes, what he dislikes, how to serve him and so on. To search and study his scriptures is to spend time with God. By spending time with God we get to know him, his desires for us and his will for us. The good news is that this word of God was made flesh and dwelt among us. He took our flesh in order to become one with us. By this singular act, he became even closer than ever. In the end, he became able to physically live with us through Christ Jesus. By assuming a human form, he was able to show us the perfect example of true worship by his words, actions and deeds. Jesus is God in his material form. To know Jesus is to know God in a very personal way. To receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist (Holy Communion) is to unite with him in a miraculous and strengthening way. Consequently, we relive his memorial on a daily basis as individuals and as a church in general. The Sacred heart of Jesus provides a means of achieving this true devotion because through this heart, the true meaning and essence of God is revealed. Through the Sacred heart of Jesus, God opens himself to us in a special way, in a unique way that gives a true and tangible meaning to our journey with God. We become embedded in his heart as his mysteries become more revealed as a result of our daily devotion. By our prayers, we acquire strength and favour that enable us persevere and endure the toils and struggles of life. In that Sacred heart, we learn to resound the true desire of Christ which is to always be one with him in the Gethsemane of life. That point when we find ourselves at our very own crossroads of choice. We learn to desire the total abandonment to the holy will of God. Like Jesus we learn to say “God let not mine but thy will be done”. In that heart, we become humbled as we gaze upon his heart. We see our unworthiness but the loving heart of Jesus continues to draw us in and heal our spirit. Jesus is God’s word personified. In the days of old, God sent prophets to his people. These prophets were mortal. They died but God kept sending more prophets who brought various messages of comfort and truth to the people. However, in the case of Jesus, his death emancipated him from the captivity of flesh. He was transformed back into his original omnipotent and omnipresent form. This miracle of resurrection is the tool that has kept him with us as God and stamped his place forever as True God and True Man. Heaven is now no longer locked up. God has stepped out of the veil created by his heavenly residence. He is now with us in an even more special way through the Holy Eucharist. At the last supper, he instituted a bloodless sacrifice of his body and blood in the form of bread and wine. He can now also dwell right inside of us in the Eucharist. Jesus remains our gift of salvation from God. His crucifixion, death and resurrection became mere instruments used by God to unwrap himself to us through the mystery of Christ our God and master. A true devotion to the sacred heart of Jesus becomes a true devotion to the heart of God himself. Find God today …find the Sacred heart of Jesus. Thank you Photo credit: Pixabay You may also like some of my other meditations. 

The importance of a devotion to the Sacred heart of Jesus

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“Stop ignoring people when they hurt you, you must always speak up for yourself!”…This became my husband’s favourite line nearly every other day. I seemed to constantly suffer at the hands of friends and family. “But I am a nice person”, I thought. “I have practiced bearing wrongs in my heart and even garnished it with forgiveness”. They say forgive and forget and lately I discovered that although I had forgiven, I never seemed to forget. Each time I set my eyes on those who hurt me, I screamed inside but on the outside, I plastered a smile across my face hoping that the pain would go away if I blinked back the tears hard enough. I was getting crushed under all the hurt. I felt like I really had mug tattooed on my forehead. I seemed to always be the one treated badly. Well to be fair, I never spoke up. I secretly grew jealous of people around me who stood up to these hurtful people. The truth was that they were avoided by these hurtful people who rather stayed away for fear of incurring their wrath. I certainly did not want to become a screamer however, something had to change real soon as I could feel myself approaching the end of my tether- fast! Well, was I truly being a nice person by pretending all was well when things were anything but well?  I had practiced suppressing my feelings so fantastically that anyone who wronged me would not see a trace of hurt even in my eyes. Yes! my eyes. You know they say the eyes do not lie. Well, mine were champion liars. You could not easily decipher any hurt through them. It was only a trained eye  (like my husband’s) that could tell that I was hurt as soon as he stepped within sight. He did not even need to see me sometimes. Just by saying hello to him on the phone, he could tell. However, lately, he seemed to be running out of patience with me. Not because he was tired of hearing my cliched lamentations and tales of woes at the hands of people I spent all my energy caring about but because he thought I deserved better. When I wrote “6 reasons why you may be getting knocked back”, I was referring in a way to myself. I came to those conclusions after one of such experiences. However, there was a U-turn in character or rather approach that took over my being after I wrote it. I resolved to learn from my own words. I was no longer going to keep being Mr nice guy. Karl was right. I deserved better. I remember when I was a very young girl, I had a bad tongue. I was at the other extreme of self expression where no one’s feelings mattered but mine.You know the teenage hormonal years of self discovery. I initially used to get a buzz from verbally trashing people who caused me even the slightest bit of hurt. Well my mother had many a conversation with me on this matter. I think the one that struck me was when she said , “you know how the bible says thou shall not kill? It is not only referring to killing with a knife. The way you talk to people, you kill them with our words and you are equally as guilty”. I was struck with mortal fear. I am not sure the poor lady meant “now you have to zip your mouth when people hurt you” or, “stop speaking for yourself”. However being a virtue seeking creature as I unconsciously tend to be sometimes, I took it to the other extreme and literally stopped responding back. You see, every time you are in a relationship where you constantly do not stand up for yourself, your feelings or your ideas (all because you do not want to hurt the next person), you are doing yourself a big injustice. By ignoring your true feelings, you are boxing yourself into an emotional corner. Repressed feelings do not disappear, on the contrary, they tend to build up feelings of resentment gradually until they get to a point where they no longer can be ignored. They most definitely explode and the worst part is that they tend to explode at the wrong time. You get to a last straw stage in a simple interaction that may or may not even be related to the person or issue and then BOOM! The screw literally falls out of your head and you unleash all the venom and anger in a what-about-me sort of way leading to overreaction. This leads to guilt and possibly endless apologies (to someone who may not really deserve the apology) that are the only way to make up for your seemingly unnecessary outburst . Do you know what this produces, further repression of future feelings as you begin to experience the fear of a possible re-occurrence of the shameful outburst you are still reeling over. The interesting part is how the brain begins to learn this method of repressing feelings until it becomes second nature. It gets to a point where you even forget how to speak out. Or worse still, you degenerate to a point of fear (even though you may not even realise it or admit it to yourself) You keep bearing this burden until it weighs you down. The solution is just simply starring you in the face. Stop repressing and start expressing your feelings. As soon as you can start it even with the smallest things, you are on the road to recovering your place in every relationship you enter. Contrary to popular opinion, repressing your feelings (for the sake of peace as people like to add) is not a sign of maturity. Maturity to me means; bold, grown up, coming of age. Which honestly in my books means becoming responsible for every aspect of our lives- which includes but certainly is not restricted to speaking up for ourselves […]

How speaking out can save Your relationships

When you are blessed with a child that has complex health needs, you get unknowingly initiated into the minority of people who have to make tough decisions daily. Some are easy Yes’es while others keep feeling like yes...but! Not necessarily because Yes is not the obvious answer but because Yes becomes less straightforward and branches out with various ramifications and aspects for your child. With many long term conditions, the answers are not quite clear-cut. Even the simplest answers are filled with inherent risks. For us as a family, one of the downsides of our son’s health condition is- loss of appetite. In his case, it began slowly. With time, it gradually degenerated into a complete food aversion. We knew an intervention was required to enable him get the necessary nutrition to thrive. As a result, were asked to consent to an operation to insert a gastrostomy tube to help him feed. It was meant to be a simple consent or so they thought … When push came to shove, even with the decision staring us in the face, we just could not reach it. The fact that we knew he needed some form of intervention, did not reduce the shock and anxiety we felt as a family. A gastrostomy is a feeding tube or device inserted, to help a person get the necessary nutrition for the survival. I have put that in the simplest way possible because this is by no means a medical write-up. The shock I felt as a mum that my son now needed a tube to feed with was too much to process… it horrified me. You know you see these things on the TV and never imagine that you will see it face-to-face. Let alone experience it directly with your own child needing it. I kept on feeling that perhaps if we persevered further with trying to offer him food by mouth (orally), he will start feeding. Well you see, the decision was very hard to make. I tried not to lose sight of the fact that my child’s welfare had to come first always. He needed this device to help him live.  From every indication, there was no other option. It was either we found a way to feed him or he was slowly going to dehydrate and heaven forbid the outcome. Accepting the gastrostomy was really in my son’s interest. It was certainly going to help him. I had to remind myself that accepting this device did not mean that I was giving up on my son’s ability as a little boy to feed on his own. It meant that I was giving him a helping hand. Like everyone else, the thought of giving him the best opportunity to live life to the fullest was always my driving force. Although I knew and understood this, I still felt uneasy. I was still hesitant. Perhaps it was all happening too fast. Maybe he needed more time to try. “The gastrostomy was too major a procedure to try just for feeding him”, I thought. I asked for more time to think about if this was the only option for my boy. I confronted other feelings that were holding me back. I confronted feelings that you too may be experiencing especially If you are at this point in your journey with your child. It may not even be a gastrostomy device that you are having trouble accepting. It may be any other medical device that you are being offered as a family to help your child. You may have allowed yourself to be convinced by people that these feelings that cause you to hesitate don’t matter.  While it may be true that some of these feelings pale in significance in light of the health risks your child will have to deal with (especially when it is clear that these risks will become more inherent if you turn down the device), It is not true that these feelings do not matter. If they bother you, then they matter. Next time, we will look at some of them in detail. I will tell you about the ones I faced and hope that by taking you through how I confronted and dealt with them, it will make your own decision a bit easier to make. Thank you for reading. For now, if you enjoyed reading this, you may also enjoy some other topics we have discussed in this series. Photo credit : Pixabay

Hospital life : Does my child need a device? “Our gastrostomy case” Part 1

    One gift that is freely given to all irrespective of age, race, creed, wealth, religion and so on is Time… It is one of life’s constants because it keeps ticking away… endlessly… waiting for no one. Sometimes we are conscious of its ticking… and tocking… especially when we are close to a timepiece. Tick…, tock…, tick…, tock…. It goes on and on forever.. as it has done… even before our existence. At other times, we do not even notice as it whizzes by. In just a moment, a memory is forged… created… as time passes by. Sometimes these memories are good ones, happy ones and we treasure them. Other times the memories are not so good. Bad memories come along… ones we will rather forget … However, whatever the memory, in reality, they belong to our past; we remember them and they can make us happy or sad. They can encroach into the present with or without our intention. They can also strengthen or scar our future (depending on if the memory is a good or bad one). The “not so good” memories unfortunately carry within them the potential to linger on longer than we want them to. This is simply because they leave a trail of scars behind which trigger pain and sadness every time we remember them. Good or bad, all our memories are trapped in what I like to call packets of time. For time to trap our memories, they have to be in packets. Not just in minutes or hours but in bigger lumps that allow the events that occur within them to take place and subsequently elapse. Thereby giving them true meaning and substance. We use these packets of time to remember different events within the story of our lives. Time divides… splits itself up as it passes. Into three…past…, present and future. Until we appreciate these three divisions of time…this fantastic way that time branches out, we risk missing out on savouring the events that presently occur in our lives. We find ourselves dwelling too much on things that have happened …which belong to the past or laying too much emphasis on chasing the things that are yet to happen…which will belong to our future. To dwell constantly on our past or future is futile. The present is the real packet of time we can ever have control over. The past is gone…the future which will come remains unknown…but the present is here…now! We may not have the luxury of choosing what we face in the present. But right here… right now, we can consciously choose either to be strong or to be broken by the events of the present. We alone can choose how we allow the events of the present affect us. We can refocus our energies in the positives amidst the challenging circumstances we face. It does not matter whether our predicament is precipitated by our actions or not. What matters is that right here and now it is happening and we have to deal with it. The glass of life can sometimes be half-full or half empty but only you can choose how to view it. Whichever way you choose to see your glass, there is no right and wrong answer. The truth is that the volume of water remains the same but one view gives more peace than the other and it is your choice to find that comfort in the way that suits you best. It is by irritating the mollusc that the beautiful pearl is formed. The Mollusc finds itself irritated by a microscopic organism in its habitat and traps it in its mantle folds. Overtime, this singular act leads to the formation of the pearl. It is this attempt by the mollusc to make the best of its present disturbing circumstance by enduring the micro-organism that triggers the process that forms the pearl in all its beauty. Therefore one decision at a time in your packet of time based on the circumstances you face presently you can make the very best of every situation you find yourself in. Generally, it is easier to cope with life’s challenges when they are dealt with one at a time. Dealing with more than one challenge at every point in time can overburden and prevent one from truly experiencing the present. This is why when live gets too heavy you should try to approach the challenges one moment at a time, one decision at a time in order to get the best results. The present, is also the only one of the three packets of time that can be your last. This fact always remains unknown until it actually occurs. Live everyday like it is your last. Like the last éclair in the pack, you can savour it preciously and make the best of the present. If it is not the last, then that present will become part of your past. Having enjoyed every moment of the present, you can then step with satisfaction into the future. In conclusion, if you have missed out on making the best use of your present, try not to regret. Regrets are a waste of your time and energy. They also encroach on the present. They start with “if I had known”. The truth remains that, you did not know so don’t be too hard on yourself. The gift of hindsight is one we rarely possess as humans. Don’t judge yourself too harshly because in the past you acted based on the information at your disposal then. So take disappointments as experiences that make you more knowledgeable. Now you know and that knowledge will help to shape your decisions in the going forward. What’s done is done. We cannot undo the past. Don’t waste the present regretting. Thank you You may also enjoy some other articles in this series. Photo credit: Pixabay  

Packets of time

I stare at this blank page thinking to myself, will I ever be a writer?? How well do I write? So many people seem to see immense potential in my writing abilities yet I don’t think or consider myself a good writer. Yes, sometimes I write stuff and yes most times I am blown away just reading stuff I have written in the past. I read them and wonder who wrote this? What part of me had this to say? Did it ever occur to me that I was caging a beast within me and writing could be an outlet to show the world the awesomeness trapped in my head or just simply within me?  I write stuff to some people and they immediately say to me that I am selling myself short. Could this be true? Am I my own greatest problem? To these people I would say keep enjoying the stuff that comes out occasionally and feel free to call me out on my cowardice because I truly need to be told the harsh truth. To my quiet and yet crazy self, I would say get over yourself. Why do you fear failure and rejection so much? I certainly need to develop a thick skin, criticism would come and it should be appreciated, be it good or bad, one can always learn from how the outside world views them not necessarily bending and changing to suit your audience but learning to have a voice that the world will stop to listen to. Have I ever considered that I am depriving the world of so much by not speaking or writing as the case may be? I am done being a ghost. I think you all have to sit back and enjoy the craziness, the depth, the awesomeness, the volume of all I have to say and trust me you are going to get a healthy or not so healthy dose of that, if you get what I mean. Meanwhile I do not apologise in anticipation to the people that will be hurt by my message, I simply will say to you ‘you just are not ready’. To the many fans and critiques, I am about to amass please be patient with me as I start on this journey. There will be ups and downs and down under but I say to you it would be an awesome experience and a magnificent ride with me. So come along let me show you a different side of the world. A view so breath-taking you will ask if you have ever lived and you would want to be in this world, I present the world as I see it from these eyes. Hello all this is EZIMEN and to answer the initial question, NO I would not be a writer. I just have a lot to say and I hope you all will listen. Watch this space. About the author : Ezimen is a professional in the daytime. He loves writing, travelling and having fun! Do you know that you can now submit a post like this? To find out how, click here. Perhaps you fancy reading from others in the community? Find other articles here. Thank you Photo credit: Pixabay

My name is Ezimen… am I really a writer?

The WH writers’ community was launched in order to create a platform that allows everyone actively participate on the blog.  It provides a creative platform to allow other opinions, stories and views to be published on this website. It gives a voice and a space to showcase the otherwise lonely essays that lie in files, cupboards or closets. Are you a writer, do you like writing or just have an opinion to share? Perhaps you have some stories stuck in your head or just something to say? Then we will love to hear from you. However, before you do, please take a look at some House-keeping rules: Rules Submission rules: 1. Be original. This means that we prefer posts that have not been previously published anywhere. Tell your own story. If you are a blogger, provide a link to your blog and we will consider it. 2. Length doesn’t matter. We do not focus on word count but content. So we do not mind if it takes 500 or 5,000 words to tell your story. 3. Include some info about yourself. Please write a short bio- Your name, what you do, and a short statement that will appear at the bottom of the post if you can. 4. Limit in-post self promotion. If you have a product or service you want to promote, please link to these in your bio. Links to relevant articles either on Whispering hope or other blogs within your post are ok. 5. The Featured Image is normally selected by Whispering hope Admin, but if you have a suggestion please let us know by also including the link. Most of the images we choose come from Pixabay. When suggesting an image please add the link so we can make sure there are no copyright infringements. 6. Your post may be edited.  We normally leave posts untouched, but in some cases we may edit things such as the title, grammar, format, etc. 7. Please allow up to 3 weeks for a response. We aim to read and reply to every guest post submission, If you don’t hear back from me within 2 then you can send us a gentle reminder. 8. Electronic publishing rights. By submitting your story to us you give Whispering hope the right to publish it on this platform. 9. Promote and share your story with your network ! That way your friends and fans will know about your work. General Rules: Vulgar and insulting materials and names will be removed. We do not permit obscene, hateful, offensive, defamatory, abusive or harassing material to be published on this website. We do not allow posting of personal and identifiable information within articles. Please do not post information that encourages criminal acts and/or give rise to civil liability. Respectful debate and opposing opinions are welcome, but please behave courteously and responsibly at all times. If you have a issue or question regarding our administrative policies or actions, contact us via info@whisperinghope.co.uk Keep your messages on topic for the particular discussion you are involved in. Please be aware that all public contributions are the opinions of the contributors only and do not represent the opinions of Whispering hope.  All the rules above apply to all articles and comments on this site. These rules are in addition to some of the rules documented extensively in our  Disclaimer page. This site is not responsible for any comment users post. We reserve the right, but undertake no duty, to review, edit, move, or delete any content submitted by users, without notice. Sound ok? If so please get in touch by emailing us at info@whisperinghope.co.uk. Please quote “WH writers’ community” in the subject line. We look forward to hearing from you! The Whispering Hope Team. Photo credit: Pixabay

The WH writing community. Find out why everyone is talking about it!

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Faithfulness in a relationship is very key. It is easily said but not easily done. A lot of relationships are decaying because, of the lack of faithfulness between partners. Some argue that it is not really compulsory in this day and age especially with the advent of various interesting forms of relationships for instance open relationships. From my understanding, an open relationship exists when both parties agree to have other sexual partners apart from their spouse or partner. They agree to bring that pseudo-relationship into the open and remove any secrecy whatsoever. Considering that the reason why two people choose to commit to each other is mainly due to the love existing between them, this love is brought into question through  this exercise. One may argue that the love allows them express these other desires and tolerate each other’s extra marital habits more. Others argued that the removal of secrecy even strengthens the bond between both parties. Several celebrities have expressed these desires openly in their relationships and as such paved the way for their fans to copy. However, when we zoom into this practice with our eyes, some of us are left wondering where the world is actually heading. It is all to me a desperate measure taken by cheating and disloyal people to justify what they do. However by garnishing it with a name like “open relationship”, they begin to also attempt to stylishly shove it down our throats. Well, if a man or woman feels forced into cheating, then he or she was never faithful to start with. It is during the temptations that we otherwise choose to succumb to, that ones ability to be faithful is tested and proven. For example, the Bible cements the status of Abraham as “faithful” after he showed his obedience to God by accepting the sacrificial request made by God of his son – the “long awaited” son of promise. We must all embrace discipline in order to be good at any thing both physical and temporal. Any relationship devoid of faithfulness is truly dead. Time and time again, we see examples of God punishing his people for disloyalty and distraction. The example of the golden calf where people tried to justify their actions as being sanctioned by Aaron a man of God, did not even spare the people from  God’s wrath(Exodus 32). Truly, in this age of freedom and “open relationships”, it appears less relevant to be faithful. The truth remains that one likeness we share in common with God is “jealousy” towards all that we hold dear. After all the heart lies where the treasure resides (Matt 6:21). In addition, the only valid opt-out clause in holy matrimony (adultery), rides on faithfulness(Matt 19:9). Holy matrimony is the display of the sacred union between man and woman as recognised by God and his holy Church. One’s self worth and confidence are called to question as soon as one accepts anything less than this basic standard from a relationship. In a relationship between friends, it’s not too much to expect faithfulness expressed as loyalty. This faithfulness cannot even be restricted to married couples. The Bible even acknowledges that there is a friend stronger than a brother(Prov18:24). The issue of backstabbing, gossiping, jealousy and other vices in normal relationships come to mind and rape a relationship of its true essence. ridding it of loyalty, companionship or happiness for both or all parties involved. Like all decisions, one must cut off this kind of relationship to avoid sin. This sense of endless quarrels, counter gossip and other damages inherent in such toxic associations. Where love abounds, faithfulness thrives. After all even Jesus Christ put it nicely “you cannot serve two masters”. During relationships and courtship, we are availed the opportunity to understudy the human character set before us. As we look through the keyhole of what life proposes to be with another individual, we must make room for human error as nobody’s perfect. Unfortunately, distractions that are mostly material and passing constantly becloud our sound judgement for no reason apart from the main one we acknowledged earlier- indiscipline! People keep choosing things that will pass away like materiality, beauty, status etc over inherent sustainable qualities like faith, hope and love. Faith and believe in each other. Hope of a future together analysed through the endowment of various qualities like tolerance, perseverance through wobbles of whatever sort during courtship or possession of a hopeful quality like smartness and as people commonly call it, “prospects”. Although mostly forgetting that it goes both ways. Lastly, love to resonate through the purpose of every action taken between both parties. I shall end with the favourite admonition of the scriptures “ he who has ears, let him hear….” Let us pray that relationships being the pivot upon which marriage and lasting ties between individuals rotates will be taken more seriously by our generation and not be constantly used as a means to satisfy our canal pleasures and desires…. Love between two hearts should always mirror the love existing between Jesus Christ and his church. As Christ remains faithful to us, may we remain faithful to one another in love….. Amen.   Photo credit: Pixabay

Faithfulness in a relationship

Hi everyone…I just wanted to share this story with you all. It was told recently during a homily. I did not attend but a friend did and shared it with me. I enjoyed it very much. I believe there are many hidden lessons within the story. Lessons that are useful to bear in mind as we live our lives. I particularly enjoyed the way the story unfolds. I hope you do too. Anyway, without any further delay, here it is… enjoy! A very poor newly wedded, young couple lived in a small farm. One day the husband made the following proposal to his wife: Honey, I will leave the house: I will travel faraway, get a job and work hard in order to come back and give you the comfortable life that you deserve. I do not know how long I will stay away. I only ask one thing, please wait for me, and while I am away, you should be faithful to me, because I will be faithful to you. His wife agreed, so the young man left. He walked many days until he found a farmer who was in need of someone to help him. The young man offered his services. He was accepted. Therefore he discussed the terms with his boss: Let me work for as long as I want and when I think I should go home, please relieve me of my duties. I do not want to receive my salary. I ask you to save it for me, until the day I leave. The day I decide to go, please give me the money and I will go my way. They agreed on that. So, the young man worked for twenty years without holiday and without rest. After twenty years, he came to his boss and said: Boss, I want my money, because I am returning to my home. The boss replied: All right, after all, I made a deal with you and I will stick to it. However, before you go I want to offer you something new: I will give you all your money and send you away; or I will give you 3 pieces of advice and send you away. If I give you money, you lose the 3 pieces of advice. If I give you the 3 pieces of advice, you lose the money. Now, go to your room and think about your answer. He thought for two days. Then he went to the boss and told him: I want the 3 pieces of advice. The boss stressed again, if I give you the 3 pieces of advice, I will not give you the money, and the man replied: I want the 3 pieces of advice. The boss then told him: No. 1: Never take shortcuts in your life, shorter and unknown paths can cost your life. No. 2: Never be too curious, for curiosity towards evil can be deadly. No. 3: Never make decisions in moments of anger or pain, because when you repent, it could be too late. After giving these 3 pieces of advice, the boss said to him: Here, you have 3 loaves of bread, 2 are for you to eat during the journey and the last is for you to eat with your wife when you get home. So, the man went his way, after twenty years away from home and from his wife, whom he loved so much. After the first day of travel, he found a man who greeted him and asked: Where are you going? He replied: To a distant place which is about 20 days away if I continue walking. The man said to him: Ol’ boy, this path is too long! I know a shortcut that is very safe and you will arrive in 5 days only. The man began to follow the path suggested until he remembered the first piece of advice. Then, he returned and followed the long path. Days later he learned that the shortcut led to an ambush. After a few more days of travel, he found an inn by the roadside, where he could rest. He paid for a room and after taking a bath he lay down to sleep. During the night he woke up as he heard a terrifying scream. He rose to his feet and went to the door to check what happened. As he was opening the door, he remembered the second piece of advice. Therefore he returned, lay down again and slept. At dawn, after breakfast, the owner of the lodging asked him if he had not heard the scream at night. He affirmed that he heard. Then, the host said: Were you not curious to see what happened? And he replied: No, I was not. Then the host said: You are the first guest to leave this inn alive. My neighbour is completely crazy. He usually shouts at night to call someone’s attention. When some of the guests come out, he kills them and buries their bodies in the backyard. The man continued his long journey, eager to arrive soon. After many days and nights walking, he was very tired, but he finally saw his house far away. It was night. He saw some light coming out of the window of his house and was able to see the silhouette of his wife. But he also saw that she was not alone. He came closer and saw there was a man with her. She softly caressed his hair. When he saw that scene, his heart was filled with hatred and bitterness. He decided to rush at and kill them both mercilessly. However, he took a deep breath and he remembered the third piece of advice. Then he stopped, reflected and decided to sleep outside that night. He slept in the midst of the bushes, determined to make a decision the next day. At dawn, he was calmer and thought: I will not kill my wife and her lover. I am going […]

How earning “bread” instead of money can save a marriage!!!

The last time we talked about the various roles held by parents in their homes. All aimed at providing the best for the family. Two important roles are commonly required to run a home. They are in my opinion the bread-winning and the home-catering roles. In areas of the world were families are structured quite simply with traditions and educational restrictions placed on women, these responsibilities do not need any debate. The men assume the bread-winning role while the women automatically assume the home-catering role. Whichever role is undertaken by each parent, they become responsible for either making the money – dough or using the dough to provide what the family needs. If you missed that discussion, you can catch up here. In some families, the battle regarding who carries out the bread-winning role is non-existent. Both parents decide to carry out the home-catering role.While the children in these units get the equal attention of their parents, the sacrifice becomes that of the economy. This steers the primary sacrificial role which the parents are responsible for unfavourably towards society. Where true needs such as disability and illness exist in a family, genuinely negating the ability of both parents to provide for the family, responsible economies are structured to gladly pick up the tab and give all families a shot at survival on a reasonable income through benefits. However, unless this is the case, deciding that both parents become home-caterers means that families begin to lean unfavourably towards the economic structures described above. They then rely solely on “benefits” handed down by government for their survival. As a result of which the rest of the society are left overburdened with heavy tax liabilities to cater for these families. The constant abuse of the system by these parents bites deeply into the fabric of the economy. It unnecessarily punctures the economic purse, causing an income leakage which will otherwise be spent on providing infrastructure and amenities for society at large. The long term effect of such systematic abuse can impoverish the economy as they get to crippling levels of unemployment that cannot be sustained while national income nose dives. However, not all economies have social systems like the ones described above. In these economies the assumption of the home-catering role by both parents does not last as long as described above. Their structures are based on the no food for a lazy man concept. The inability to generate any income for the family quickly means a direct inability to thrive or survive. Therefore as poverty begins to pinch every member of the household, the logical means of survival becomes dependent on how quickly the bread-winning role is reassumed by one of the parents. ——————————————– Ideally a family where the bread-winning and home-catering roles are well defined will be more sustainable. Either role can be assumed by any member of the couple. Depending on how the couple is constituted- male, female or same sex. The fact remains that whoever assumes a role is as important as the other. There is the tendency to over emphasize the bread-winning role because the bread-winners bring in tangible and quantifiable elements into the home. They earn money and with money naturally come respect and status. This can leave the person assuming the home-catering role feeling “left out”. However, this should not be the case. Home-catering is actually a complementary role. Without the smooth running of the home, how will the bread winner and children thrive? The home-caterers provide intangible and most times unquantifiable elements into the home. Stability, presence, smooth running, organisation, and even home making elements are provided by this person. No one can serve money in plates to eat. Therefore, the home-caterer converts all earnings to their various uses. The buying and preparing of food, purchasing of clothes for kids, shopping and every little thing required for the smooth running of the home. As a home-caterer, there is the tendency to feel isolated. However, it is high time this role is placed on the pedestal it deserves which is in a position alongside the bread-winning role- not beneath or above. Both roles are of equal importance in the home. Just like with everything else requiring excellence, division of labour is also key. If such excellence must be achieved in the home, everyone must assume the role they are better at and then strike a balance. Where both parties decide to work, at least one person should work less perhaps part-time to provide support to the children. Tantrums and attention seeking behaviours are reduced to the barest minimum when at least one parent can give the required attention to children. It is important for parents to take parenting classes if they feel the need to. There are books and online communities available to provide support to families. There is no need for pride or shame, remember, you only get a shot at raising your kids. You cannot press a repeat button. It is important to get it right the first time and get help when you feel you are struggling. Photo credit: Pixabay If you enjoyed reading this, you may also like reading some others in this series.

For the sake of the children – Which “dough” do you make in your home? PART 2

Well as the title suggests, today, I stretched a bit too far. However, I can bet with you that is not in any way what you think. It’s not my finances, time or anything that (normal) people stretch but it was good old me that was stretched! When I say good old me, It is 100% me! Well I woke up this morning bright and early – early riser and all that (yay!) as I have become since I became a parent carer. You know the funny thing about that is that my brain tends to wake me way before the alarm clock (and unnecessarily at that because today as you know, I am in a hospital ward where that is done by the lovely nurses). Well my frustration did not reduce my need to do what I always do. I did what I have done from time immemorial against every giggle, advice or look from my disapproving parents, siblings, husband and wait for it… kids! Yes, silly kids that I once provided accommodation for (pregnancy and all that). I STRECHED! Yes you heard right… I stretched. In the mornings when I wake up I always treat myself to a satisfying stretch. Like a cat (holla to all the cat women out there !!! ) I always stretch. For all you stretch haters out there, as silly as this might sound, a stretch is the true meaning of being alive. It puts the “WAKE” into A-wake. It should be an art form because skilled stretchers like me can bend and twist into different shapes and positions. Do you know what the most prestigious part is? It is not a skill you can learn but a TA-lent (shaking my head up and down) that only a few of us are blessed with. Stretching is a bit like marmite… You can either stretch or you CAN’T! There is no room in between for fence sitters (bl