Skip to content

When the body protests, the soul hardens; My cancer journey (Part 1)

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”I looked at the hospital ceiling as I struggled to keep awake. I wanted to talk to my mother and friend who had come to visit me soon after surgery. It was an uphill task, so I resorted to talking to them with my eyes closed. That too was a fruitless attempt as I drifted in and out of sleep remembering the events of less than 24 hours prior.

On Sunday, the 6th of October, we arrived in Harare at sunset from a weekend church trip to Kariba. As I took painkillers for the eighth time that day, my friends sternly told me that I needed to see a doctor and stop the thirty-minute intervals of gobbling tablets and self-diagnosis. I told them I would be fine, and that there was nothing that painkillers would not fix.

At my place, I unpacked my bags in slow motion as the pain I had endured for months, since July, was now dictating the pace at which I did anything. Without electricity, I used my phone to light up my kindle as I read Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, for the fourth time in four years. The silence in my bedroom helped me to concentrate and take an imaginary dream to Nigeria, as Chimamanda’s descriptive style of writing made it easy to visualize her characters.

An hour later I fumbled through my bag to get another dosage of painkillers as I continuously felt uncomfortable and desperately needed to sleep, in preparation for a new working week. The pain subsided and I slowly climbed into bed, knowing that electricity would come back after I had slept. After 10 pm, with a low battery, I decided to put my kindle down and save the little battery power that my phone had so that I would browse through social media.

I managed to sleep eventually, only to wake up in pain, and again I took two more tablets to help with the pain. However, this night was a different one as I experienced more pain than that which I had been feeling since July. The pain was so intense that I cried so much.

At 1 am I woke up again, this time in excruciating pain. Constipation had reached levels that I had never experienced before. I went to the bathroom, after having taken two more painkillers, and when I realized that I was bleeding I knew that all was not well.

Considering the time of night, I felt it was unfair to wake anyone up. So I dressed up, packed a small bag, and drove myself to the hospital. I went straight to the Admissions desk and asked to be admitted urgently. But I had to be asked to follow protocol by going to the reception first and paying a consultation fee to see a general practitioner.

The friendly receptionist asked me to take a seat and I declined, citing that it was too painful to sit. A doctor on call then came to take me to an examination room where all movement and slightest touch from him had me screaming in pain. He asked a few questions and took down notes. A few minutes later, he came back with a brown envelope and told me that my situation was urgent and that I needed to see a specialist as a matter of urgency.

Again I asked to be admitted because I was in too much pain to drive back home, but the doctor declined and said it would be a waste of US dollars to spend the night at the hospital, as I would only see the specialist the following day. He then prescribed a very strong painkiller that would ease the pain I was feeling and also put me to sleep.

Reluctantly I drove to a 24hour pharmacy where I bought the prescribed painkillers, and by 2:30 am I was on my way back home. As soon as I got home I sent a text to my mother, telling her of what I had just been through in the last two hours.True to the doctor’s assurance, the pain medication sent me to sleep without much effort. The sound of a phone call from my mother woke up a few hours later….