“One Year Later…”

May 18,2018.

It is already 2241 hours but I won’t let this day just pass. On a day like this in the year 2017,It was confirmed by all tests that truly I literally was on the verge of losing my colon. A diagnosis that shook me.I was extremely helpless at the time and knew so little.But I was determined to fight till I could fight nomore.

Fast forward,one year later. I am not where I was then.I even can’t believe it’s me.God has surely been good to me.He has been with me on my restoration journey.I am forever indebted to Him.

In this journey I have learnt to give Him my all.I have learnt to trust Him fully with the process.And He has gradually transformed my lifestyle,my thinking and my view of Him.I have seen a tremendous improvement in my health.It is unbelievable the milestones I have achieved by His grace.He has worked wonders through my maintenance meds and I am grateful.

I am so grateful for the little things we take for granted.

  • I am grateful for appetite.That I can enjoy meals like I used to before I got myself into this whole UC thing
  • For restoring my blood levels.I am more than grateful God has continually seen me through this
  • I thank God for Energy.Because I know there is a time all I could do was spend the whole day helpless in bed.I am so grateful.
  • I am very grateful that I am back to serving God.What a joy,what a privilege.

It hasn’t been a walk in the park.If there is a time I dread is the end of the month because that means I have to do my medication refills for which I pay handsomely. But I no longer care because God has taught me the value of life.

When you still have all your systems intact,praise Him.Serve Him.Exalt His name.Do not wait for Him to remind you that you were created to worship Him.You better do it voluntarily.

And for anyone who’s in the middle of a storm,God knows.Better ask Him to give you grace to respond with gratitude because He sees the bigger picture.Just a matter of time and He will reveal Himself.

Even as you walk through valleys low,fear no evil.Learn to trust Him.He will light your way when you can’t see.

Through the fires, He will walk you through and you will come out without being consumed.He will take care of you.

Just like Shadrack,Meshack and Abednego,you will not be consumed by the fiery flames.Same way He shut the Lions’ mouths when Daniel was thrown in their den,same way He will shut all situations that threaten to bring you down.

Above all,allow His will for your life.

Mine is a story of hope,resilience and complete trust in God even when it absolutely makes no sense.

Every diagnosis that has a name shall bow under His Authority.

Till next time.

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How it Feels to live with a Chronic Condition

First things first. What is a Chronic condition? The oxford dictionary puts it this way:
“(of an illness) persisting for a long time or constantly recurring”. In most if not all cases, when one’s diagnosed with a chronic condition, it means they have to be constantly on medication to manage symptoms and prevent recurrence.

There are quite a number of chronic conditions including but not limited to diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, kidney disease, HIV/AIDS, lupus, multiple sclerosis et cetera.
It goes without saying that there is no medical cure for chronic conditions but nonetheless they can be effectively managed and victims of such can lead normal lives by strictly adhering to medical prescriptions and consequently observing a generally healthy lifestyle.

How does it feel to be diagnosed with a longterm/chronic illness?

  • The very first time it is discovered and announced to you as a patient, it weighs you down mentally,emotionally and consequently physically. From experience, normally it is a struggle to come to terms with such news.
    However, with a firm support system and faith in God, one is able to gradually adjust and change their outlook and perspective towards life.
  • Depression is a major feeling for anyone who manages a chronic condition. Such conditions necessitate regular hospital visits, constant supply of medication, special dietary and lifestyle adjustments. All these are factors that are prone to initiate anxiety and depression over time. Worry as to whether or not you will meet all the requirements that come with the diagnosis is a major contributor to depression.
    It gets complicated because stress generally triggers a flare-up of symptoms. On many occasions the doctor actually prescribes anti-depressants to counter-attack such feelings. Good thing is, by engaging the mind in constructive ideas and focusing more on God-given talents and abilities, one can very easily stay stress-free as challenging as it is.
  • An altered self-esteem is a common occurrence. You’re at times too concerned about how everyone views you and sometimes it consumes how you should be actually viewing yourself. Sometimes you view yourself as a letdown due to occasionally being unable to deliver to society’s expectation.
    Sometimes everyone thinks the reason you have that condition is entirely your mistake. Enough people think you probably haven’t been feeding well, don’t go for checkups, don’t pray enough or you lead a careless life.
    Once in a while you will hear things like take enough water, eat vegetables, exercise regularly and that kind of thing. Others will outrightly ask you, ‘hey you’re a Christian. Why are you going through this?’
    It’s important to understand no one would choose such a life. It absolutely has nothing to do with them.
    Questions like “Ulipona ?(are you healed now?)” are not part of the things you want to hear because you really don’t have an answer for such.

Nonetheless, all these help in shaping one’s approach towards life. You get to appreciate the little things people take for granted. You get to appreciate genuine love and support, and celebrate small victories.

Life is so precious. If you still have it, take care of it.

 

“Of Life’s Tempests…”

I once voyaged the oceans,aboard a cruise ship.It was all calm and breath taking until low clouds began to form and a raging storm ensued.The stillness was all gone.It was violent,frightful and devastating.Amidst all the confusion, the ship hit a rocky island and water began to leak in.
When all ran out of control,the captain abandoned his machine and dove into the waters.
Fellow passengers followed suit.
I had never swam.What was I to do?
I initially thought I’d rescue myself by getting rid of the leaking water using a bucket.
No it was overwhelming because by the time I realized, I was all alone in the ship. One person definitely couldn’t handle it all. The water levels were continuously rising and the ship threatened to sink. It was taking the rescue team too long to arrive. So I did what any other sober man would do. I put on my life jacket and dove into the raging waters. Painful decision right? No life boats no nothing.
Somehow I had to keep moving through the waters despite my lack of swimming skills.
Surprisingly, I got the drift.I kept moving.It didn’t matter how long help would take. I knew it was on the way.

I am Ngigi.

This is my story.

©Ngigi April 2018

“End of February 2018 Reflections..”

24796381_1609695432424202_7430993645057060191_nIt’s Wednesday, 28th of February 2018.I’m seated in my little nest after a busy day, thinking to myself,”That was fast!” I’m looking back at how I sometimes battle myself whenever I want to write a post. I’m not sure whether sometimes it’s just TMI?Maybe sometimes I appear to be seeking sympathy?Maybe I expose so much about myself?You know,probably stuff that no one cares to know? I don’t know.

This past month we have experienced real high temperatures all over Kenya.We have been graced with sunshine.The other day someone was joking, “You’d be tempted to think someone is roasting us to have us for dinner accompanied by ugali.” It has been that serious 😀.Even taking a couple of showers doesn’t seem to cool things off.It is this heat that forms basis for my inspiration to write up this one.

It’s while taking off my shirt to prepare for a bath that I’m reminded of quite an eventful year 2017.I have to postpone this shower for later in the night.

First, I am amazed by God’s tender Mercies, that today I can walk out in a shirt and be a hundred percent okay.

A time like this, last year(2017), I had lost quite a considerable amount of blood from an active phase of colitis,since May 2016.Case of ulcerative colitis that was yet to be diagnosed.My haemoglobin levels had fallen and kept falling day by day because I was being treated for wrong illnesses.

The low HB levels meant my body couldn’t heat up. I was always having chills,completely frozen.I’d always be in heavy jackets,socks and all that.I’d sleep in heavy attire and a couple of blankets and still shiver the entire night.I could not feel warm even on a sunny day.I’d be in sweaters and trench coats on Sundays in church,despite the sunny weather.I know someone would have confused it for “swag”.

I know so much now that I didn’t know then.I didn’t realize all I was going through was as a result of low haemoglobin levels.Doctors kept giving me iron supplements but because of the underlying active phase of ulcerative colitis,the supplements couldn’t do much.

First the UC diagnosis took us so long,a lot of damage had already happened.The entire year I was a frozen chap,battling all the symptoms that accompany being anemic i.e fatigue,where you can’t even stand for ten minutes,light headedness,passing out and severe headaches.That plus UC took me through the craziest rollercoaster I have ever experienced in my life.

Towards the end of the year is when it was discovered that things were getting out of hand,at a HB of a miserable 4. I could barely walk.I’d pass out in the shower,pharmacy,lab.Literally everywhere.

I was pale,really pale.I’d look at myself and get really scared.I’d nearly see through the flesh in my palms.So I was taken in for transfusion and guys came through for me in numbers.I was so touched.

Today instead of complaining when I feel the heat,I smile deep down in my heart because I realize I am on my path to full restoration.I just grab my water bottle and sip my water while shedding off whatever clothes I am able to.I am reminded that a few moons back I couldn’t tell whether it was hot or cold.

I am full of praise now than before.Next time before you complain of how scorching the sun is,remember that person who can’t even tell because their health is in a terrible state.If you just be a little bit more keen on life,you will realize how blessed you are.

My highlight has been, “Do not be quick to judge.”

When you meet someone in town clad in a heavy jacket and probably a sweater and it’s hot,do not be quick to laugh them off.You do not know their story.If you’re in a PSV and someone begs the driver to stop along the way so they can relieve themselves,do not be impatient.Do not be agitated.

Lastly,good health is a privilege.You do not deserve it.At least be thankful for it.Live as though everything that happens to you is an undeserved miracle.

Yours Truly.

“Get up and Eat”

It has been quite a long while since I last wrote. I apologize for the lack of consistency. A lot has happened during this period. My machine broke down, then I got into the worst flare up I have ever experienced with the ulcerative colitis. I got hospitalized for a week and some days, with very low Hb levels to an extent I needed blood transfusion. During my hospital stay it was discovered I had chest and lung infections, of course as a result of a compromised immune system caused by the UC medication and the bleeding during symptoms’ flare-up.

It has been quite a season for me but I have felt the love and support of those around me. Truly God has been on my side.  Friends, family and colleagues from work have all been really supportive.  Even when we needed blood donors, the turnout was overwhelming. I am so grateful I have such people around me. That gesture has really touched my heart and has made my recovery process fast and seamless. I pray that God rewards each one of you.

During this season I came across a story that has since been emphasized to me by a number of people.
1 Kings chapter 19, Ahab reports to Jezebel of the things Elijah had done as recorded in chapter 18:

  • Praying to God until fire came from heaven consuming the burnt sacrifice in the presence of the prophets of Baal
  • Slaughtering the prophets of Baal after it was proven that their god was false and powerless

This doesn’t go very well with Jezebel who swears to kill Elijah. Elijah is forced to run for his life. He leaves his servant in Beersheba, Judah while he himself goes for a day’s journey into the wilderness. It is here that he prays to God that he may die, lies under a bush and falls asleep.

All of a sudden the Angel of the Lord touches him saying, “Get up and eat.” He finds some baked bread and water in a jar, by his head. He eats and drinks, then lies down again.

The angel comes back a second time and touches him saying, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.”
He gets up and eats, then travels for 40 days and forty nights to Horeb, God’s mountain.
The story goes on and on with Elijah trying to meet God and asking Him to take His life. Surprisingly, God does not kill Elijah.

In life, we sometimes find ourselves in Elijah’s situation. Every time I am having a flare-up of symptoms, I experience pain and torture. Sometimes there’s poor response to medication. I grow weak within a very short time and sometimes, like Elijah, in my bed before I sleep, I ask God to take my life, at least during my slumber. During those times I feel if I die, it will save me the pain of living with this condition, and at the same time save my family the hustle of taking care of me.

But God’s word today is very clear. “Get up and Eat, for the journey is too much for you.”
Clearly, there is a reason and a purpose as to why God has sustained me to this far. He has ensured I have all the support I need. He has provided for my needs through this season:

  • Good healthcare
  • Supportive family(Immediate and extended)
  • A  network of supportive friends
  • Spiritual nourishment
  • And so much more..

All these can be likened to the food provided to Elijah, to strengthen him for the journey.
Whatever my journey is, I am willing to follow as Christ leads. I have gained a whole new meaning of life. I do not take anything that happens to me for granted.

My prayer is that God helps me live the purpose for which He has preserved my life.
If you’re going through a hardship and you feel like you can’t take it anymore, my appeal to you is not to loose hope. Get up and eat, there is a long journey ahead of you. There is grace for every season you go through.

Till next time, God bless you.

©UC Fighter

“Daily Struggles of a UC Fighter

Anyone who’s been following my stories is now familiar with Ulcerative Colitis, hard to understand I know but you have a general idea. The reason I sometimes share my experiences despite the condition being so embarrassing is so that, if someone around is newly diagnosed, they will find a person closer home who goes through the same.

When I was diagnosed I went to the internet and sadly couldn’t find anyone who was sharing their experiences, at least in Kenya. All the results I got were Western. Hopefully my stories will help someone some day.DSC_0111

Living with colitis can be a struggle sometimes especially if most of the time you are around people who have no clue what you go through.
Below I’ll try and highlight some of the daily struggles of a UC fighter. This is however my experience, different people are affected differently.

1.It is an embarrassing condition, to even speak about. The fact that it entails the lower digestive tract starting from the colon downwards, it becomes hard to talk about it. Such things are taboo in our culture, right?Yes people are too civilized to talk about such. We end up keeping to ourselves, which is a struggle.

2.I battle a lot with energy and symptoms in the morning. Maybe because the duration between the last time I took meds and the next time I take others it quite long at night, I don’t know. When I’m on corticosteroids however I am normally a monster. I have to contain myself because the energy and appetite is just too high. I can’t be on them for long, because of adverse side-effects. As the day progresses I am able to bounce back slowly.

3.Questions as to whether I’m fully recovered. Not a very good question to ask someone who battles UC.

4.Trouble choosing what to eat. Sometimes everything aggravates symptoms.
Sometimes you’ll be cornered. “Hee you’ve cut weight!” Yes I know dear. Sometimes my colon refuses to absorb nutrients. Not always though 🙂

5.Sometimes feeling like a burden to people in public set-ups, you know.They have to prepare something different from whatever everyone else is helping themselves with. Sometimes it takes longer to prepare, by the time you’re having yours everyone else has finished. Anyone who doesn’t know your story looks at you weirdly.You have to endure eating in your own company.

6.Cold chills. Because of low blood levels sometimes, my body doesn’t heat up. Doesn’t matter the amount of sunshine on a day or the temperatures. I just freeze up. As such I like to be warmly dressed at all times. This works well for me.

7.An altered taste in the mouth. This is sometimes caused by medication. That means once in a while you’ll eat but you can’t tell how the actual food tastes.

8.Alternating seasons of depression and hopefulness. Sometimes things get extreme when you fail to respond properly to medication. One is filled with desperation at such times. Thank God for my support system, I always have someone to talk to, somehow.
That cloud passes and you feel life is back to what it used to be. My happiest days are the ones I go symptom free.

9.Always browsing the net to learn about the condition. I just don’t know how that happens. You’re always reading about diet, medication and managing the condition. Though Doctors highly advocate for this, sometimes you go overboard.

10.Sometimes very hurting comments. For instance the other day someone looked at my hands. They’re very light due to medication and other uc factors. He asked me why my hands were so light compared to my face. I didn’t know what to say, so before I could change this topic, the guy went away laughing hard. Whatever he was trying to insinuate.
On another instance, I had just gotten out of bed after diagnosis. When I went somewhere and someone saw me, They asked if I was still on medication and I said yes. You should have seen their reaction when they replied, “Zimekumaliza aki.”
See my life?

11.Sometimes not wanting to talk to anyone because you simply don’t know what to say. When the abdominal cramping attacks, all you want to do is be left alone. If I am around sanguines this is normally a troublesome period, if they have no clue ha-ha.

All these are small struggles, but I am so grateful to God, that in all these I am whole. I have never lost my mind, I have seen genuine love and care. I know people who pray with me, they constantly tell God something about me. My family has been so supportive, especially my parents. I totally salute my mother and father.
Friends also have been there, I thank God.

I have resorted to encouraging myself to fight till I can fight no more.
Till next time,

Yours truly,
UC Fighter.

 

“My Gratitude Checklist”

Roughly 4 months since I embarked on a journey. A journey I knew so little about. I trusted God The Master, and so far I have learnt to put up a spirited fight.

It is not easy to wake up knowing there’s a part of you that doesn’t function well. It is even worse when doctors keep pumping it in your ears that you have to learn to deal with it because things will remain like that your entire life.

The thought of a chronic condition had never crossed my mind growing up. When it hit me, it put me way down. Such a huge blow it was. But hey, here we are. Getting up slowly, burying the past, embracing the present and changing the future.

I have managed to pull through the four months in good health, with minimal flares. There have been challenges yes, but they didn’t put me down.

I have my life back, and I’m glad to be bouncing back even stronger. Went back to doing the things I love doing and it feels great.

Today I am grateful for so many things in my life:

  • I am so grateful to be alive. Life has turned out to be my greatest asset
  • The support system God has provided for this season – My dear parents, Brothers and a sister-in-law.The entire family. My church – The ministry I serve in, for the encouragement, prayers and believing in me.
  • Friends – Some we meet frequently, others we meet virtually on social platforms. You all play a vital role in my life and I highly cherish you. In one way or another you fuel me emotionally to continue with the journey.
  • Everyone out there who prays for me, and wishes me well generally. God bless you.

Sometimes in life you do not need answers to everything that happens to you. They all happen for a reason. It all needs a positive mindset and a conqueror mentality.

Cheers to doing life together. You are a blessing!
Thanks for all your support. I value you all.

"My Mind in Words"

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