So I’m home, and going to have to stay home this whole week. I was halfway through telling my eldest sister that I’d be going back to work tomorrow when she cut through with a “hey, hey, hey, you are giving yourself the week! GIVE. YOURSELF. THE. WEEK. ahba!!”
Rewind to last Friday. It was a normal morning…ok not so normal morning but I will rewind again to explain. I got to work feeling okay; I even bought waakye on my way there so I was really set for the morning. I settled in, read up on some devotionals I hadn’t caught up with yet and then I started feeling pain in my chest. I got up an stretched a bit then sat back down, but moment I sat my lower abdomen started cramping too. I was the only one in so I locked up, went to the bathroom, thinking it was some stomach bug that had got me. By the time I came out of the bathroom, my entire body was screaming in pain and I’d broken out in cold sweat. I sent a message on my work whatsapp page asking anyone to get me some tramadol on their way and headed back to the bathroom when the tummy cramps started again. I sat there on the toilet seat taking in deep breaths till I felt better again, then I stepped back out. When I got back, one of my colleagues had arrived and had already set up behind his desk. He asked what was going on “Are you in pain?” He asked. “Yup!” I responded, and made my way back to my seat. The moment I sat, pain pretty much exploded everywhere in my body and breathing became hard. I put my knees up to my chest in the seat, it made things worse. I put my legs on my table, even worse. I leaned forward, put my head on the table…not working. I was sweating even more. WHERE IS THE DAMN TRAMADOL! I checked my phone and everyone said they’d passed the pharmacy and were already on campus.
No matter how I tried to adjust myself in my seat, the pain just got worse and I thought my eyeballs might roll all the way up my brain. I hadn’t seen my Dad’s car earlier so I didn’t think he was at work, so I texted my sister “Are you on campus? I feel like I’m going to pass out.” By then I didn’t know what else to do, or what exactly I was doing next, but I stood. My colleague asked if I was okay and I shook my head. “I think I’m going to pass out.” He was all the way in the back of the room, and I was all the way in the front, and so by the time he was halfway up to where I was, I was down on all fours hitting the floor with my open palm and gasping. “Should I get you to the hospital? Do you want to lie down?” Now I don’t know if he was expecting me to be able to properly communicate with him, but that’s how far I remember. Next thing I knew, I was on my side on the floor by my desk, and my Dad was shaking my shoulder, calling my name. I opened my eyes, and there were his shoes. I had tears on my face. He kept shaking my left shoulder telling me to get up. He grabbed me under my arms, held me up and half-carried, half-dragged me to my seat. Now that I can properly think back, I remember my colleague was just standing there. It must have been shock. Poor Theo. My dad then gave me some water to drink and asked me what happened. I was exhausted, talking was going to be hard, but I summed it up quite briefly for him. The pain came right back after that and I threw all my home training out the window and started crying shamelessly. I remembered I’d texted my sister so I mentioned that to my dad and he called her. They’d sent my cousin to come get me, and she soon got there. My dad debated for a bit about them taking me to Legon Hospital or somewhere else, but me of all people, I didn’t even care. I just needed to not die, or die faster than I was doing.
Anyway, so they rushed to Legon hospital. And truth be told, it was either I was too bad a shape to care, or their service really has improved. I think in about five minutes after arrival, I was in the emergency unit, had been given pain shots and I had an IV bag going. Wheeew, diee another day! When I had stabilized, I was moved into the emergency ward proper. By then, my fam had told the doctor that had attended to me about my pre-existing condition. He came to me and explained that they were going to detain me and run some tests to be sure the flare up had not been caused by some infection, or that there was nothing else going on. The tests came back clean. No infections. My Hb count was okay, no malaria parasites, no pregnancy (I remember the doctor pressing down on my abdomen when I was brought in earlier asking “is there any chance you could be pregnant right now? Look at me, I need you to be straight with me. Is there any chance you could be pregnant?) LOL OKAYYY RELAAX DOC! LOL!
Then he asked. “Have you been stressing yourself? You know your condition. You know how stress can trigger a crisis.” I nodded. “Well, yes I was a little stressed from work.” I said, and he went on to tell me how needful it was for me to avoid stress and how it clearly was stress that had brought the flare up that had landed me there.
Now let us rewind to the Thursday before that Friday the 13th. I was on my way home with my sister. I was in the front seat with my baby niece, my laptop bag was leaning against my seat on the floor in front of me. A few minutes away from home I noticed my baby niece’s diaper had shifted and she’d peed straight into my laptop bag, onto my laptop. Initially I was pretty calm. Let’s get home, let’s get home…We get home, I grab my laptop, dash inside, flip it open, turn it on, and it is humming like a hair dryer on full blast, but not responding. The notification lights flicker and then go off, and this laptop is lying there looking finished on me. I started pacing my room like I had just given CPR to a human being and it wasn’t working. My stomach was doing somersaults and I just kept going on “I can’t…I can’t…I can’t…No No No, Not this time, Lord. No No No. I have deadlines, God. I am already battling anxiety with these tasks and my to-do list, God, No No No. I can’t right now.” Within minutes I was so worked up and stressed, and in such a foul mood, I ended up exchanging heated words with my sister, and turning in early (although I did not sleep much). STRESS!
So when the doctor came in and pointed out the stress bit, I knew very well that I had brought on that flare up. It may not have been the sole contributor, but the pre-existing anxiety that I should have nipped in the bud was there, the sharp change in weather had not helped much, my mood swings had not helped much, and that laptop incident was the domino that fell. Now I am sitting here, TYPING ON THE VERY SAME LAPTOP – yes, cos it got fixed – right! perfect, Amma…you went and had a whooole panic attack, didn’t you?
Bottom line is, M’aso yɛ den. My sister, with whom I had the heated exchange, had tried to get me to calm down and not get worked up so easily over things that I can barely help in the moment. I did not listen. I was bent on flying head on into stress, it seems. I acknowledge that perhaps this battle with anxiety and panic attacks, etc. are the comorbidities that research shows often come with chronic conditions/disorders/diseases. But at the same time, I acknowledge that I need to make a conscious effort to take my own advice, as well as advice from loved ones, like my sister and the rest of the fam. Lol, and from you too, Dan 😉 I need to get help, when I need it. I believe God has made the provision. I can’t pray and fold my arms afterwards. I need to act.
So yes, I am going to stay put and make the best out of this time off work. I am going to take better care of myself. No way I’m putting myself through that again. I needed that wake up call.
Now to operation HAKUNA, MATATA.