One night over a week ago, after chugging an unnecessarily chilled drink, I realised I couldn’t breath. I thought I had been sitting too long all day but it wasn’t so. In my fear I told my mother. She was upset. She gave me an I-told-you-so sermon. “You don’t sleep, you don’t eat, you don’t come out of your room, you always look pale, you always have anaemia … I keep telling you you will be ill.” Marissa her words made my life flash before my eyes. She eyed me one more time and said, “Pray it is not BP.”
Several people adviced that I should go to the hospital. In fact I needed not to be told. I was already terrified. At the doctor’s after describing my symptoms, he checked my blood pressure first. He uttered “Wow”. Ei Marissa Papa Doctor said wow, what does that mean? But the anxiety ended when he added “Perfect”. He asked a couple of questions more and so on and announced that I had an ulcer. Ulcer? No hypocrisy Marissa, I didn’t even grieve because I knew my lifestyle.
I have had ulcer recurring, once in junior high and another in uni. However none of the health professionals linked my incessant chest pains, periodic nausea, weight loss since age 19, breathing difficulty, dizziness and back pains to that damned disease. I look back at my painful back I’d let Kobe rub, clutching my chest in pain for so many days only to be told I had worms, nausea upon nausea, constant weight loss since 19… I was relieved it finally made sense but I was mad at myself. This is the second illness I have carried since school days that I haven’t paid attention to.
I know I am not alone in this. There are many people out there not taking symptoms seriously. Pain and discomfort in the body is a good sign the body needs to be checked but we don’t listen. We dislike going to the doctor and you can’t blame us because it sucks to seek healthcare in Ghana. The waiting time, menopausal grumpy nurses … Going seems so much like a huge task. But we need to move. Headaches we link to tiredness, stomach aches we attribute to last meals, self diagnosed allergies and so on could be life threatening conditions we are growing inside.
A friend once told me that you can be it all and have it all but when the mortal body is damaged, when the vessel in which the spirit lives is damaged, then what is the worth? In short give your body consideration like you give everything else. But the thing is sometimes we are ignorant, other times we are adamant, then we can also care but not have the will to take action.
In some days my friend Harold Ankrah will be buried. I keep asking what was wrong with Harold. What did him in? If it was sickness that could have been cured if taken seriously or detected earlier, or even prevented, that will be just too sad. But Marissa simple illness left to thrive kills people. Underestimate nothing. If we still insist, then we should not call on God to answer for deaths that he has given us means to prevent.
For me about that ulcer, whatever damage lies within, it’s upon my own head. I still miss meal times by minutes sometimes though I am doing better than before. My reaction on the day I couldn’t breath just proves to me I don’t want be sick and my lifestyle now should prove so.
What kills the young Marissa? What can kill you? If you don’t want to die stay away from it.
But one more thing, sickness might sometimes not kill you and relieve you. You will be alive but incapacitated, with so many rules to adhere to keep you alive and so much pain. That Marissa, is misery and is even worse than dying.