One very hot morning 10 years ago, my dad received a phone call from the school nurse that I wasn’t feeling well and he should come pick me up. I had only been in school 3 weeks and so obviously, he didn’t fathom that I could have a chronic condition that would change our lives forever ; he just thought I was having issues with my asthma or some random infection and once I was checked out, I’d be good as new. But no! What met him was his baby girl with insanely swollen joints, limping and dragging her feet. The look on his face was completely heartbreaking but we just laughed our way to the hospital, we waited for the test results and the doctor came back with an “I can see nothing wrong with your daughter but just take this anti-inflammatory drugs and the swelling and pain should subside.” So we took the packet of Olfen-75, he took me back to school and went on home. Two weeks later, he got the same call, only this time the swelling was worse and this went on till a point where the doctors recommended I see a psychiatrist because they could find nothing physically wrong with me.
My dad is by no means a doctor, but he is my father! He stood for me, by me, believed me when no one else did, defended me and that’s what I want to talk about today; Parents believing their children. You see, if from that first day my dad had not believed that something was actually wrong with me, we might not be here today. When my teachers, classmates, schoolmates, doctors all believed I was faking it, he never doubted me for a second! Not a nanosecond! He always said,” This is my child and I know her better than anyone else. If she says something is wrong, something is definitely wrong.” For 3 long years, doctors could find nothing wrong with me and they told us as much. They decided to treat me for anything and everything under the sun. (Speaking of which, is it hot or what?!? Keep away from the sun lupies, sunscreen and water are your friends right now. The photosensitivity, the heat, the malar rash, I know things are tough right now, keep the faith my people) Can you imagine 3 years of your child suffering and nothing can be done about it? It’s absolutely heartbreaking. But as a good parent should, you stand by your child, you support your child. We look up to you especially in rough times for we know that if you could, you would take this suffering away from us. So parents, listen to your children, know your child and believe your child. For this is what made me who I am today. Without my parents’ support, belief and encouragement, we’d be on a whole different platform.
So today, I want to celebrate this great man whom I have the honor of calling my father! My number one supporter always, my best friend! Happy birthday ol’ man! Fathers are a special breed, mine in particular has done so much sometimes it’s hard to find the right words to say I love you. Thank you for always being there for me, urging me to fight better and harder, fighting for me when I had not the strength to….So daddy, I wish you blessings upon blessings, good health and long life, happiness and peace of mind and soul. I love you to the moon and back times infinity!!!!
I came across this letter that my dad wrote to supporters. To parents, spouses, siblings, spouses, friends, we intend to share our journey as patients, supporters and a family. So here is part one of his letter:
A LETTER TO SUPPORTERS…..PART 1.
Where do I start? The beginning? Was there even a beginning? Aaaaah yes! There was! I remember the joy of my daughter’s birth! The rush to get to Mater Hospital to see the wonder of the world that was my daughter Wendy. How vivid everything is. The all-night drinking party, the endless bragging! “Mtoto kama mwenyewe!” Oooh people, the joy! Well, I will tell you what, some things never change! Even in the adversity brought about by her illness, my daughter remains a wonder of the world. Not many people can live with adversity the way she does! Now to the journey; the torturous journey my daughter has had to travel for ten years! When Wendy started feeling unwell, something always told me there was something really wrong. When all around her though she was going through phases of uncertainty, that she was seeking attention, that she was being abused (the nerve!), my parental instinct always told me there was something horribly awry.
The endless visits to hospital that all but took over my life, dwindled my financial resources, got me into a depression (this lasted 3 years), had me wallowing in self-pity, entrapping me in the worst phase of my life. But then there she was! Stronger than everyone around her yet walking on crutches! I thank Wendy for keeping me strong! Inside of me, I was in turmoil but one look at her, a word from her (through all the pain) was enough to lift my spirits.
A lot has been said about mothers and their children. And this is to take nothing away from them because they are heroes but to those fathers living with sick kids, this is for you; Salutations aplenty! Hats off! There is a joy in caring for them however ironic that may sound. It brings out the best in human beings. I know I am a good man and mostly because of caring for Wendy. I don’t feel sorry for myself rather I am astonished that I have the fortitude and the grace to cope! But then again, you have to hand it to Wendy for making it so!
This is just part of the story to ease me into the groove of sharing it with you. More will surely follow!
People, the bond is there, never to be broken! Keep in step with the warriors! Tell them, YNWA! All together, “YOU WILL NEVER WALK ALONE!”