I spat out the second bite of my lunch. It was potatoes and rice. Again. I keep telling mother that I hate this mishmash of ineptitude and discouragement. She doesn’t care. We come from Central Kenya and a meal without potatoes is a crown-less princess; she is just any other girl. Mum had packed this for me as I headed out for work in the Ward as a registered nurse.
I gave up on this meal and attended to one dialysis machine which had decided to burst my eardrums. I disliked the blaring alarms. The water plant had run out of water — third time this week. Julieta,my colleague and a damn great nurse, hurried out to refill the water tanks.
The other nurse was helping me circulate the blood manually by turning the machine pump to prevent blood from clotting.
We should not have been going through that but this is Kenya and here we do with what we have. We got tired of complaining.
After this ordeal bland as my lunch, the Nursing manager sent me a text that my transfer request had been accepted. I was finally going to Garissa County!
I had pushed this request to the recesses of my mind just like I had many other alternative versions of my reality. This was a wake up call. I had wanted to transfer to Garissa county but now I had a choice not to. A choice beyond Garissa. Beyond Kenya.
See, I had always wanted to leave my country. For better terms and conditions of employment. For betterment of my career and to see what else a nurse can be apart from a clinical nurse.
I knew I am an old school wannabe writer trapped in the body of a modern day Renal nurse. I have been very curious as to what opportunities the world has to offer a nurse who holds a pen. Kenya, understandably, limited that into clinical work and teaching if not research and marketing. I have no idea how the seed of a mysterious MORE was planted in my head but I sure watered it.
Going to the famously loved Nurse destination–United States of America. was out of the question. The process would take at least an year to immigrate. I had many things with me but time was not one of them. I needed out. My world was collapsing and the walls that held it were belly up.
The kitchen of my personal life was melting and I needed some ice on my tongue. I just wanted to go. To. Go. Anywhere. The god of peace, I needed him. If he couldn’t come to me, then I would go to him.
United Kingdom was floated to me by a former colleague. The problem was that I didn’t know what to do about UK. How did nurses immigrate to the UK?
I had a week earlier received a Skype interview invitation with a potential employer in the UK. I knew I’d ace it. My former colleague had said it was easy peasy.
I therefore wrote to the County Secretary to suspend my transfer to Garissa County. I would stay. I would stay long enough to eat my lustre less lunches and refill the water tanks in the water treatment plant.
A few days after my 28th birthday, I bade farewell to Kenya. This was done in complete secrecy. Only a handful of people were made aware. It felt like I was leaving for some vacation. Like I would be back soon.
Being conspicuous on social media, I continued a charade of someone who was still in the country but having some time off work. It worked. I never made it to the Broadway so social media can as well be my God-given stage!
There is nothing as testing as being alone in a new country and a different continent. Now I know. Now, I surely know. I however had too much pain back home that a change of scenery was welcome.
Offered a choice between drinking my own blood and going home to the embers of a dying personal life, I’d gladly have slit my wrists open.
Starting out where nobody knew me or my story was a plus. Because time is the great equalizer, the reality of the mistakes I made in accepting the job offer I received started showing.
The half-hearted explanations and witty exploitations from coworkers started manifesting themselves. It did not help that I was yet to get my Personal Identification Number (PIN/LICENSE) as a UK nurse. It was exasperating.
The United Kingdom became icy for me. But if I went back to Kenya it would be icy inside for the rest of my life.
As the days bled into nights,I spent some on the floor of my shared apartment crying and rocking myself to sleep. I longed for mum and her craftly uninspired packed lunches. I needed someone to talk to and I was in terrible shape. Home sickness they called it. It was more.
It was the feeling of worthlessness. The fangs of hopelessness dug into my flesh and ate away at my very core. It took me a minimum of three months to fully settle my mind and get my bearing . It took an even longer period of time for me to know my space as a nurse and fully exercise the authority enshrined in the Nursing Code of Conduct.
I used what I’ll call backwards strategizing. I was so encapsulated in my own misery that I failed to research well about Nursing in UK while I was still in Kenya. Emotionally fraught with all the things happening in my life then.
There are gaps that I did not identify and fill. There are potholes as sharp as any double-edged sword in the scanty information regarding migrating to the United Kingdom as a Kenyan Nurse.
It has been long but I love this country of the Queen. I have hopelessly fallen in love with Nursing here. I love the autonomy. I love everything that a nurse symbolizes here. I have had to learn and unlearn a few things but all in a day’s work!
My lessons I’ll share and more. We will laugh and discuss different aspects of this journey going forward. Every Wednesday will see a snippet of this process surface on this blog.
About my god of peace, he had always been in a cage in my heart and I finally broke the lock and set him free. I’m bathed in his iridescent golden rays of serenity.