Sometimes we all are but little children. Sitting on the floor gazing at the backside of a canvas being painted. It looks ugly. Senseless and downright boring. We can’t wait to go to the other side and see the whole picture. At the core of it is a special thread that holds the entire canvas in place. Without it, the painting crumbles. It becomes a mishmash of wet and thick liquids.

That is the situation Covid-19 has presented to the Kenyan masses. For the longest time, healthcare workers have gone on strike to decry, in part, deplorable working conditions. I remember my colleagues at Kerugoya Referral hospital refusing to work because of horrible conditions. They were sacked. Some even contracted Hepatitis B.

Not here to lament though , believe me I would like to. However I’d hate for pain and grief to be my most prized possession. Today, Kenyans are listening thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic. I love good opportunities. Actually, I take advantage of opportunities; their nature notwithstanding.

I will hope to God that you do get the courage to take a leap with me into the murky waters that are our current public healthcare system in Kenya. Hold my hand.


Working in the Renal unit at one public hospital in Kenya last year was a blessing to me. I had an opportunity to learn the challenges we face as nurses and the entire renal team. On this particular Thursday, we had no food to serve our patients on dialysis. Many may identify with this situation. Hemodialysis is one of the most energy intensive procedures a patient will ever have to undergo.

Going without a meal was beyond me. I remember having a chat with the powers that be (many know me as a salient activist especially where injustice prevails). I posed questions whose answers came in choked bits and pieces.

The Hospital, a level V one, had not received funding for about six months and it was in enormous debts to her suppliers. All suppliers had stopped supplying us with food items and now it was all man for themselves.

It pained me when my colleagues and I had to tell patients to bring food items in advance from home. This situation was replicated in the general wards. For patients whose relatives didn’t visit often, they were left at the mercy of other patients if not nurses. I lost count of the many times some of my fellow nurses brought packed food if not went to the shops to buy food for patients.

When one is quarantined at Mbagathi, the most unselfish thing for her or his folks to do is to NOT visit them. What was kind to do yesterday is unfortunately very irresponsible to do today. Covid-19 pandemic has turned our values inside out. Our socialization challenged.

Patients are expected to have relatively comfortable lives for the period of the isolation. These are the same wards that should provide enough food, toiletries, hygiene products and beddings to name but a few of the required consumables.

Fellow Kenyans, when you strangle funds to reach public hospitals, the result is a malnourished public healthcare system. You must contend with limited supply of services at the same Hospital you despise.

Understandably, everyone loves quality healthcare. That has informed the upsurge of medical insurance targeting private hospitals. Private hospitals are never lacking in commodities. They are always offering decent meals and nurses and doctors wear ever present smiles for your pain. Friends, a pandemic is not insurable.

You might have to find yourself in that public facility that you have treated like dog poop for all this while. You will have to be served by the same healthcare workers who you have time and again labelled selfish when they strike to seek better terms and conditions of work.

If the government and you the entire citizenry actually cared, public hospitals would never lack funds to run her operations . Suppliers would be timely paid. Machines would be promptly repaired. Casual workers and cleaners would never go a month without their wages. We would be proud of our public hospitals.

Covid-19 is exposing our underbelly as a nation and unless we have an honest conversation geared towards efficiency and effectiveness in the public healthcare system, then this exposure will be for nothing.

There is nothing as bland as passing through pain and not learning a thing from it. Time and again Afya House has been embroiled in scandals. Scandals which have been sanitized if not swept under red carpets. We lose funds in the most ingenious ways.

Funds meant for the sick and lonely. Funds meant to finance public Hospital operations. We stopped caring as a leadership in Kenya because we can afford the notable private Hospital charges. If that fails, we can grab the next flight to London or India and get our broken bodies fixed. Unfortunately our spirits are left in irreparable shreds. Covid-19 however has allowed nobody to travel to seek treatment. We perish or stand together.

I am a firm believer of our public healthcare. If you invested in us in the public healthcare sector, perhaps you would not have to feel so edgy at the prospect of being quarantined in an emaciated ward, would you?


I thrive in veracity. No matter how hurtful it is, I desire the truth. I love more when I am confronted with hard truths than when I am cushioned with soothing lies.

We have used public healthcare as a campaign tool for eons. That is decrepit by now. Kenyans need to ditch the mediocrity bubble they have been accustomed to. We need to be awake to the fact that proper healthcare is not a favor but a RIGHT enshrined in our constitution.

We must be honest when we demand better services. On one hand, we treat nurses and doctors and other healthcare professionals as the enemy while the actual enemy is your political leader who expects these professionals to work around the clock with little if any, resources.

Honesty comes in the form of candid discussion where I get to tell you the challenges I face. That the radiographer machine is not working since three months ago and no, the clinic you will go to is not run by myself. That we do not have gloves and masks and therefore I want you to come with some at your expected date of delivery. That I have no linen in store and so I will humbly ask your relatives to bring some blankets for you to shield you from the cold.

When mothers are forced to share beds after delivery, caesarean or normal, I ask you to please make room for the next patient. That should make you very pissed. Not at me, because Jesus help me, I have no bed I can add to that ward, but at the right people.

That should infuriate you. That should incense you. Light up a fire that you direct to your governor or national government. It should make you dial the HOTLINE numbers that you otherwise dial when you suspect negligence at service delivery.

It should spring you into action by calling media houses. The same way you call them to say nurses have ‘allowed a mom to deliver on the floor.’

See, you are a dishonest populace that expect us to run on bare minimums and still deliver excellent care standards. My worry is, we hardly survive on a normal day, how will we survive with this pandemic?

However this is a conversation we do not want to touch as a people. We want to continue swallowing campaign promises year in year out. Therefore, for the deplorable conditions that our isolation wards will soon enter into, we have nobody but ourselves to blame. I do not expect you to change because I can count on you as long as I can count on a politician’s promise in an election year.

Tattered ethoes

By either default or design, healthcare workers got sucked up into an unforgiving system and they became better students than the master. Most of the healthcare workers have perfected the art of survival by rendering what I call shitty services in public hospitals while offering the same services; only this time ‘above excellent’ is the term I will use– in private hospitals.

This is how it works. Some doctors and independent practitioners hold two jobs if not three. This makes sure that they attend rounds at a public hospital for say an hour then ask the entire lot of waiting patients to return in a week’s time so that they can spend the rest of the afternoon minting tax free money at private Hospitals.

Nurses have more than once been at loggerheads with this clout of doctors. Our ethics as professional healthcare workers have been sacrificed at the altar of greed and we are damned. A radiographer will take his sweet time to come to a public hospital where he is employed and on the government’s payroll because he is hidden in another radiography unit in a private facility making quick bucks. Our moral fabric silently tears apart.

The oaths we took at graduation are no longer binding. They are just empty chants with no hold on our conscience.

It almost looks like a favor we are rendering patients when we treat them or serve them well in public hospitals. As if they must beg us to do what we are employed to do.

Granted, we have excellent doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals in public hospitals. However, the few ( debatable I know) rotten eggs make the whole crate smell like Satan’s broth.

Indeed the infrastructure is there. Many times the system fail us but I will be lying if I say that we are not sometimes part and parcel of the failure.

This is a call for us to understand that Covid-19 is and will affect us as healthcare workers. It will be very dramatic to see yourself being treated as a child of a lesser god just because you seek services at a public Hospital.

This is one time that we must blot out those stubborn stains within our personalities. We need to treat our jobs as a gift; whether we come out successful will be dependent on our interpretation of this pandemic.

Political Goodwill

It is no longer enough to say you dislike politics. Good politics translate into a good life while bad politics brew the opposite. Policies and regulations made at different levels of the government need the willingness of the political class to enact. Our political elite must face the truth that indeed it is no longer enough to just write down policies. They must be translated into small actionable deeds. These directly affect the consumer who is people like you and I. People that rely solely on public healthcare to survive.

Covid-19 is a pandemic that does not respect social strata or kickbacks from private health facilities. It is a time of reckoning I daresay.

You have become the proverbial ogre. Passing laws that seemingly protect universal healthcare but also passing others that prioritise private health facilities.

It is sad the limited number of Intensive Care Units (ICU) beds we have in public hospitals half a century later after independence. Covid-19, if you did not know, at its severest is causing acute severe pneumonia which necessitates an ICU.

My question is, how many patients do you think we can accommodate in our ICUs across the country? Let me save you the trouble, we have less than 500 ICU beds in public hospitals in the entire country. To get one in a private facility, you will have to pay a deposit of roughly Kshs.100,000.

We have complained of this little fact for the longest time but as usual, our voices were lost in the din of better problems.

I dread the day that we will need to make a decision on who to save and who not to. It is happening in Italy, a country that has fairly stable public healthcare facilities. I hate to think what would happen in Kenya. I hate to even imagine it. But here we are, playing Candy Crush and eating Mukombero because well, that is not our problem, is it? Until it is…

Going back to that canvas which we were painting, perhaps if it was turned and the painter chose to move his paintbrush delicately as we watched, maybe we would appreciate the entire meaning of what he has been trying to day all along.

Covid-19 is that hidden canvas. We are only seeing the back of this tapestry and it initially isn’t making sense. Soon it will and we may not like what we see.

Mine is a voice calling out in the desert of the skeleton of public healthcare, is anybody listening?

My Black-ish Wedding

The inability bybmen and women to deal with their mistakes is what causes so deep a heartbreak.

I was going through my wedding photos and I came across my solo photo. I looked heavenly. Sleeveless gown bedecked with fake silver pearls on the bosom. Cinderella waist out-flowing to meet the short train of the gown made me a sight for sore eyes. My smile caught the sun rays and it made my eyes shimmer with astounding glory. Then the eyes. Wide open with glee. Fake lashes giving more diameter to my lenses. A photo so beautiful it breaks my heart again and again. It was highlighted with black as deep as the pit in abyss. I still feel it sometimes.

There is divorce when you are in your forties with a few babies and a cat, then there is divorce when you are in your twenties, no babies and definitely no cats. Not because you do not like cats but because you really do not care about pets. You have no home plant either. You take care of everyone but pets and humourless house plants. You do not hate them. You just feel nothing for them and that makes people think you are a monster. Maybe you are.

It confuses people. Not the lack of pets you Wiseman, the divorce. It flabbergasted me for a while. Not a while; more than just a while. I hid the fact that I was ever married. Divorce in my world, represented sad women narrating their gory life histories over cups of morose coffee. Women with motivational quotes all bordering on men being four -legged animals. I would hate to be identified with that clout of misery.

When I went for the Divorce care Counselling, the first words I ever uttered were, ‘ I do not want to be here.’ I meant it. Who wants to be in a class of grown ups sobbing about the unfairness of life, not me! I was mistaken.

See, I always had my life figured out—or so I thought. At 26, I knew I wanted to have my first born. I even had a name for her because God help me, it was going to be a girl. Looking back I think that was pretty naïve. I am not famous for my brilliance though.

At 26, I walked down the aisle with who I believed was my life partner. When I tell my best friend that I wanted to run away the same day I walked down the aisle, he laughs his lungs out. He feels I am the most melodramatic girl he has ever met. That is a coveted title I humbly accept. That , friends of God, is a crown I wear with as much pride as Aladdin’s genie at the three wishes.

I walked up the aisle (surely the opposite of walking down the aisle is walking up,no?) an year and a suicidal ideation later with nothing but the pieces of my broken heart. If I listen hard enough, I can still hear my heart shatter on the cold concrete floor. If I stay still enough, legs closed in the famous Lotus posture, inhaling a concoction of brutalist fumes from elderly candles, I will hear the veins of my heart burst open. If I stay without blinking for thirty seconds, muscles of my eyes trained on a big black circle, I will see the trickle of hot blood from the heart that hung on shards of glass.

I do not want to go into the details of the events that led to the famous fallout. Partly because it is depressing and majorly because the outlines are clear but they fade at the edges leaving blurs and smudges, after that, everything is dark. Darkness is one struggle I choose not to have.

A legally divorced, gorgeous (I just complimented myself go hang) and baby-less lady in her twenties attracts all sorts of mysteries around you. It started with speculations that lack of a baby was the reason why that union collapsed. It morphed into many theories which I gave up refuting. There is nothing that screams GUILTY as attempts to deny a story. So I let it go on. The noise was however too much and I had to excuse myself for a while. It served the purpose of allowing my former partner to spin his web of lies in my absence. I never bothered correct him.

What was even more infuriating was his dismissal of the court proceedings. He chose not to attend or contest the divorce or even face me in court. He chose lies, more lies and even more lies told to willing and listening ears. It broke me into smithereens.

That helped not because men generally assume I am in some sort of emotional limbo. Women on the other hand assume I am living in denial. When I tell girls in the twenties like myself that I look forward to love and marriage, they shudder with awe. Men on the other hand keep assuming I am desperate to get laid.

I encounter men who ,much to my chagrin, imply that coming to my house is a cute way to start a friendship. I will never understand that concept. It takes a man a few days of infatuation to suggest I need him in my house. The idea of a woman having her wits about her and still be single is foreign to many. There is one who actually told me I am at the age where I should read signs and interpret them wisely because the years are moving and soon I may not have a baby. Soon, went on the Great Seer and Interpreter of Women’s Ovarian Cycles, I will get too old to get married. I should, he summarised his speech, lower my standards and get on with him as he is available and learn to love him on the way. I was galled. Miffed. Stupefied and in a catatonic stupor as he spewed his version of wisdom.

The problem with this type of thinking is one. I have been there, done that. I know how grave getting into a union for the sake of it is to me as a person. I know how dangerous it is. I have lived and held it. The poison has coursed through my blood and hit every vital organ. I have known pain from such a myopic perception.

Such notion come from men who are used to treating women wrong and women letting them get away with it. We are so used to being mishandled as women that we consider it our normal. Chaotic relationships have become our new way of living and we do not expect anything more.

Men on the other hand have gotten used to the idea that they are God’s gift to women and so women should keel backwards and let them pass. Unquestioned, unchallenged, masterpiece. I was so damaged that I thought everything he did against me I deserved. I was so hurt and broken in ways I can barely outline that I felt he was doing me a favour by loving and staying with me.

Time however, taught me the beauty of damaged people—they know they can survive. I did.

I have met ladies who have been separated 0r divorced and they all felt a certain closeness with me. Because someone understood them or their stories. We however almost always fall out with them. #TeamPhoenix, when one undergoes untold pain and subsequent loss of a marriage, fear grips them to hellish extremes. That coupled with anxiety makes for a beautifully bitter woman. Bitter with men, bitter with society, bitter with self.

Separation and divorce makes one nurse feelings of anger and hatred which will make you sing the men are dogs chorus for the rest of your spartan living. I refused to be that woman.

I refused to be the girl who tells others how unforgiving marriage is. I was unsupported, unloved, abused and misused and my love disused. That is the truth. However how I interpret my truth is a struggle. I chose to make a lovely struggle.

I make deliberate efforts every single day to view marriage as a beautiful story. I have enough reasons not to. Believe me I do. I strive to view love as a butterfly that won’t leave my tummy. This is my way of doing it. If this makes me unreal then I am as guilty as charged. I am not blind to abusive relationships. I am as woke as woke can be. However I refused to let my past define my future. That would be giving him too much power over me and last I checked, dude wasn’t worth squat.

Peace with myself, happiness with myself is the thing I never gave myself for 26 years. It took four wrong years for me to realise how utterly selfish I have been to myself. Now that a couple of years have passed, I look back with appreciation of my short stint at marriage. I do not think I would have known myself as I do today had I not been thrown against the rocks of my turbulent marriage episode.

I however wish I did not have to undergo such a calamitous moment for me to appreciate myself. It was unnecessary and an overkill. But I did and it will always be my choice how I deal with that. I have loved me in ways that I can not explain. That sounds like a line from the motivational speakers club. Ha ha.

No, I do not say so to pep talk myself. I mean it. I have learnt my blind spots and in certain flashbacks I wonder how that son of my former mother in law dealt with my emotional volatility. Well, he did not.

Self- love is the ability to realise that you suck at most things in life and actually doing something about it. It is the looking of self through Rose-tinted spectacles and yet see the logs of wood that impede your sight.

In the Divorce Care program, I met men who had undergone hell and that may have opened my eyes into the fact that people are people and their being nice or nasty is not related to their gender.

By the time I was done with 12 weeks of counselling, I was able to say yes, I was once married and yes, I look forward to marriage again in future. I was able to forgive all my mistakes and those of my former partner. I was able to say with a finality that the marriage should not even have happened in the first place. I made peace with that. It was just a glamorous waste of everyone’s time. Oh, but people love a good waste of time, don’t they? That coupled with a beautiful wedding gown and classy photos is a nice way to spend a Saturday afternoon isn’t it? Yes I am laughing…

I will not sit down and perpetuate fear of love. If anything love does take away fear. That does not mean I am desperate for a man. I was at 26 and it landed me in a place I was not supposed to be. I was and it made me make stupid decisions which I have had to seek help to accept and live with.

That is how I confidently say no to the few that imagine coming to my house is a thing. I still believe proper men exist. Chivalrous even. Men who respect women. Men unthreatened by strong women. Men capable of being men without leaning on anything else. Men able to make peace with their demons and still smile and laugh from the belly. It may make me simplistic in my opinion but well, it is my opinion.

I say a few more Nos to anyone and everyone hell-bent on psychoanalysing me. Hell-bent on explaining my past, explaining my present and definitely out to make me feel under pressure. Love, I have learnt, includes a mutual friendship and understanding. It is not self seeking. It is the small things we choose to do or not do that define a marriage.

Therefore if you see me smiling like the moon gazes at me every night, let me for I have learnt what it is to lose a smile. Let me because I have known days when the tears never dry. I have felt pain in my heart in more ways than one. My story has been distorted to fit the other person’s narrative. I have watched as friends and enemies talked about me as if I was not in the room. Oh I have felt it all. The betrayal and disrespect. I have held it in my trembling hands.

God though, held my hand through my murky waters. He made me get away from toxic situations and let me go many miles away from those that wished me harm. He said I am His daughter and He has my life figured out . All I needed to do was follow Him. I have experienced that peace that surpasses human understanding. I have experienced calm in a storm.

As for now, I remain the villain and superhero in my post divorce period.


We have no future as a people if we do not stop having violence (paraphrased from Edward Bond)

There are many things I have believed all my life. Like If it rains while still sunny, monkeys and hyenas are getting married in a beautiful jungle wedding.  If you cross the outstretched legs of your elders as they warm around the fireplace, you will never give birth. They are truths I held dear until I grew up and realized my clan and their clans played me. I however hold grudges against my elder sister Immaculate. That lassie told me that I have large-sized feet because I hated washing them. Who lies to their baby sisters like that? I am yet to execute a revenge.

I have been enlisting the services of the committee of experts in my head for most of my adulting and they are yet to give me a befitting course of action. I called her out to my whole family in the last get together. I wanted them to realize that behind that calm demeanor lay a not-so-immaculate wicked heart. They did not. They all burst out in peals of laughter that would put excited teenagers to shame. Labelled her creative. She even told dad that she had said so to help me love water because for most part of my childhood, bathing and I were sworn enemies.

I will tell ogre stories to her children you wait and see. They will hear it from me.

When dating and love and the whatnots of restless hearts came in, we were told that there are certain calibers of men that treated their women well. We were not taught to find them or to be found by them on the basis of their characters, no. We were to base this elusive gold through tribes, sub tribes, clans and race.

Stereotypes were painted in our hearts and agile minds that a man was indeed as good as their surname or lack thereof. Coupled with happily-ever-after-infused telenovelas, the reality of pain and pleasure of love was lost on us.

I had been mulling over how untrue all these things have been when I knocked on the Duty Room’s door to meet Mildred*. Mildred is a nurse in my new work station. It was New Year’s Day and normal people were either making resolutions or having their time with families. Nursing is not a job that allows anyone to be normal. We were therefore being on duty.

I had spent the New Year’s Eve at a street party and there ensued a stampede which saw my ankle half sprained. I wanted Mildred to please take my shift as I went home to cool my heels down.

That is when I saw her. Her milky white skin was flushed on both cheeks. Her lower eyelids colored in tiny dark streaks of the mascara she wore. Her lips smudged and minute traces of purple lipstick clung on. Her eyes, though winning at a smile were worn out like a tired headline. Verdict; she has been crying. In comes Catherine, deducer of the obvious and master of apparent observations.

Tenderly placing the stethoscope I held in my hand on the table, I asked Mildred what was happening. She ignored me and went back to furiously write a letter she was engrossed on. I felt pity for that piece of paper because the strength with which she wrote made me conclude, again that that paper had hurt her.

After realizing I was not going anywhere, she looked at me and said, “Catherine I can’t take your shift because I must go home to see my children before something happens to them.”

She said it with such a finality that my curiosity was piqued. She opened up.

Mildred has been living with her partner and father of her children for the past five years. He has been beating the living lights out of her as well as being an emotional, sexual and the in-betweens abuser. He is the most charismatic man to the rest of the world but a jerk at home. He makes her go on diets to be plump or slim depending on his present fantasy. This man had been arrested and charged over five times in the period they stayed together due to battery in its different forms. Restraining orders had been broken time and again. Twice he has been in remand but Mildred went and bailed him out. You read that right. He beat her, got arrested, she bails him out. That has been the cycle she had been through.

Why you ask? Because of the same reason every victim defends their abusers –control.

She showed me copies of doctor’s assessments after she was sexually abused by this same guy. She hoped, with time, that she will make herself good enough for him but in the meantime she wanted time off to go be with her children. She was drafting a letter, therefore, to the manager asking for an emergency leave.

I was perplexed. Not because she had bailed him out but because she is a White woman in a White country which is thousand degrees up on the civilization thermometer. With coercive control being a crime in this country of the Queen, I was appalled by the presence of such inhumane treatment and silenced intimate partner violence. Gobsmacked because my truth of White men treat women betterthan my African brothers was shattered right there in my eyes.

My truth that White men only mistreat Black women was ripped at the centre. She showed me scars on her back from whips this man has used on her when he felt that she needed ‘disciplining.’ A cold chill that had nothing to do with the wintry weather outside made its way down my back.

That first day of 2020 taught me how tasteless and utterly colorless violence against intimate partners is. I went back to the many taunts from a few friends that I am better off marrying a Mzungu as they treat people well. How ignorant that statement is.

Treating your partner right, respecting them, wishing them well has nothing to do with race. Take that and run with it. Race is what we see on the outside. Perhaps the westernization of most of our television love stories has made us assume that the rain of abuse only pours in Africa. N to the O.

Violence is a torrential storm sweeping across all colors, shapes and forms. Violence knows not your surname. Abuse does not respect melanin or lack of it. At this juncture, Mildred is just another sister girl going through the patches I have had to go through. Mildred is a girl held mentally captive by her abuser just like many victims are. She is a girl not taught and not able to be taught by her current system, how to value herself and move out of a potentially fatal situation. I cry for her. Not because he will be back in her life but because she will let him in.

She is a girl whose story stings my heart in different new ways. It is not about where one comes from ethnically speaking. This is all about one’s virtues as a level-headed human being. An evil person is evil whether they come deeply spiced and tenderly marinated from an island in the Caribbean or Canada. A good person is good whether Taiwanese or Togolese. Goodness and evil transverse the globe in varying shades of melanin. It is your happy day to accept this plain truth. Actually, use this as your New Year’s entrance song. Wrap it on your elegant neck. Cuddle it to sleep. That, #TeamPhoenix is all the motivation speech I will throw at you this year. No promises though. Ha ha.

 I no longer wonder why victims stick with their abusers. The element of control by the perpetrators is played with surgical precision. Abuse, essentially, is not so much the physical as the mental hemisphere from which it emanates. Violence is about control. The battery, insults and assaults serve to buttress the emotional and mental regime of captivity.

There must be something more than the physical walking out of an abusive relationship. If not there, one tends to keep stumbling over the same outgrowths of misery then blame it on life being thoroughly unfair to them.

Like Mark Manson I pose, how special do you think you are that life suddenly decides to focus on making you sad all the time?

#TeamPhoenix, Tweni tweni has not even had a cuppa tea so here is my Beautiful New Year Wishes to you!


I held the sun in my hand,
but it felt cold.
Not like the flaming ball of Orange in the sky
but like a globe of ice.

It is a little past noon and the meeting has just been called to order. Scott is the facilitator.  We do not know his surname. Nobody knows anyone’s surname here.  I even doubt his name is Scott. People are comfortable not knowing much about one another in this group. It is my third time here and everyone is looking expectantly at me. I had to attend this group therapy because my supervisor said I either attend it or I face the sack. I do not want to be jobless so here I am.

“Hello, I am Catherine and I am an angry person,” I unreservedly declare.

“Hi Catherine,’’ the six people in the humid room reply in a boring monotone.

They are; three almost-gentlemen whose names I can’t recall, two ladies and a ferret. The animal is owned by Scott. He says it helps him focus. I think he just loves animals but won’t admit it. He excitedly talks about anger. He is not angry. I am confusion itself.

He starts preaching about how antisocial we are. Not because of the anger but because we are too passionate. What a paradox. We have always been that way even before the discovery of the global village. Hello mother, I am not angry, I am very passionate. Ha ha.

Everyone nods in agreement but I couldn’t be bothered. I am pissed off. I miss my phone and a strong Wi-Fi connection. I want to tell my hundreds of followers how boring this meeting is. I am not ready to form friendships or any real life connections as Scottie is suggesting. I call him Scottie. Not to his face but on my mind he is Scottie the Ferretie.

I hate when I have to talk about my feelings. I am a bubbly person but below the surface that Scottie and his band of feel-Happy artists want to scratch is a cauldron of smoldering anger. And a deep desire for release.

There are many things I am angry about. Today, I am mad at Mary and her malicious self. Mary is a girl I should not have called. But I did. Follow me.

It had been a normal Friday evening. The traffic in Nairobi city coughed like and sputtered. The touts slapped the thighs of the loud Matatus and Facebook was still Instagram for old people. I am old-ish. As I scrolled through photos of extremely good-looking men on Facebook, my notifications badge blinked red with a message. I have always replied to them and so I decided why not.

It was a lady asking for my phone number because well, she had something very important to tell me. I encouraged her to share in my inbox but I think she thought I am part of those Russian spies or something. She wouldn’t. She was adamant too that all it took was her talking to me on the phone. She graciously gave me her number.

A few days later, after twiddling and doodling with the number, I decided to give it a buzz. A buzz. Mm, I admire people who speak like that.

“Yo Boris, give me a buzz later. Cheers.”

“Cheers, mate”, Johnson tells Boris.

So I buzzed. I was ready with a wise-ass line. I wanted to tell the owner of the meek “Hello” at the end of the line that it still wasn’t safe to talk. That we could go to the heart of Chalbi desert with my eyes blindfolded and after using three planes, one rickety Chevy and a camel to throw off anyone keen enough to follow me.

That or maybe, it is time we met in a Library on the same aisle and talk to each other while reading different books and never eyeing each other because spies might be listening in on our little chat. We may have to run for our lives soon.

I did not do it. After introductions and her vote of thanks for my auspicious call to her, she dropped the bombshell. Literally.

“How is Jim? Do you think I can trust him?” She eagerly waited.

Now, Jim and I had been married for a while before I realized the trouble I was enshrouded in and walked away. This was when I was waiting and praying to the gods of marriages to touch my husband and return him to me.

It was one of my most vulnerable points in life. Maybe not quite because no good deed goes unpunished but this was it. I was hurting and a new girl was asking me how to handle my soon to be ex-husband. Satan is not short of surprises and innuendos.

Mary laughed in my silence. She giggled. I realized the meek voice was meant to throw me off-balance because instead of a bird learning to fly, I heard the chirp of a vulture used to the hunt.

“Catherine, I want you to know I came to your wedding and I have your man. He has even visited me and I love him very much,” She cheerfully announced. After the dark angel on my left shoulder finished laughing at the white angel on my right shoulder, I replied in the most honorable ways.

“Jim is a great man and you can trust him. Also thanks for letting me know about your plans. If there is nothing else, I wish you a good day.” I hung up before that maniacal laugh from Mary the hunky dory got the better of me. I needed to hung up and block her on all platforms. It was nauseating.

I was angry. Angry that my dear husband had gone to such great extents to make sure that I was not only hurt but shattered.

I should have shared with the group. I should have told them how agonizing It felt to be replaced that fast. But I did not. I kept telling myself stories as the group members spilled their guts out. All I wanted to do was sign the attendance register then grab my phone and start interacting with hollow profile holders on social media.

My new found drug was sunshine laced posts and comments on social media. I liked how it used to numb the pain.

This meeting was outliving its usefulness. Scottie the Ferretie wanted us to recite the 12 steps heavily borrowed from Alcoholic Anonymous. I was not amused. Nothing in this room was a source of amusement apart from that brown ferret with piercing eyes.

I have been thinking lately about why women hurt other women. I have asked myself that question a million and one times. I have been wondering what Mary hoped to achieve or did achieve by hitting below the belt with me. Was it all worth it at the end? I would be disappointed for her sake if it wasn’t.

I have learnt to sell nothing short of happiness in spite of a cloud of dark. My journey, like that of many other men and women may have been scribbled with the right amount of agony but we triumphed. We faced our fears and did something anyway. Scared of the rising sun but opening the curtains nonetheless.

People, in a nutshell, will always do whatever they want to do and there is nothing we can do to stop them. I could hate people if I wanted to. Maybe label them in colorful words It is in your best interest to know that sometimes when it rains it pours. You may think you have seen it all and then boom! It gets worse. But It gets better too. It does. As soon as the storm passes, we will safely anchor the ship and have a party.


Light at the end of the tunnel can simply mean an oncoming train.

Life will not always make sense. It is there to be lived either way. Not the chirping of the birds or the aroma of good food will have hidden meaning. It is all part of this maze we live in. Life, painful as it may be for some or pleasurable for the others, is not what you make it as some would want us to believe. Life just is. It does not care about your perspective. It will happen because that is what life does–happen.

I would love to stand in front of an eager crowd and feed them hope. I would love to stand and punch the air with fists of victory over every little and big fight I have allegedly won in my life. Maybe be this iron lady who prances like a foal in a paddock because she was there,saw and conquered. Probably sing songs of freedom to a wild audience that will sway to my tune like a tribe of over-caffeinated monkeys.

However I will not because I am not a very good liar. I suffer short term memory loss and I would have to write down every lie I bellow through the microphones so that I may remember them all.

Truth is, it still hurts. It hurts that I invested so much of my time and resources trying to build a marriage that was authored on some sinking sand. It breaks my heart. Every. Single. Day. Well, there is a hint of hyperbole there but it is the truth nonetheless. It may not bother me all the time because I am busy being a nurse and a semi-manager of some sorts. You do get what I mean, however,don’t you?

Time and again I hate myself. I look at all I may have done had I not willingly entered a pit that I knew was too deep for me to climb out of. I knew it. That is the problem with most abusive relationships. The victim always, always know what the perpetrator is capable of but they somehow go ahead with it.

It is what I constantly call the impeccable art of self-destruction. My issues, to bore you, were not to do with my marriage per se. I like that phrase “per se.” It is a very Kenyan phrase. We use it in all situations and subsequently murder the Queen’s language. We are amazing. Not amazing Per se but… ha ha see what I did there? You are welcome!

I am deflecting , thank you for stating that. My issues stemmed from anger against those who took my childhood away from me. That was the most simple, perhaps too simple, an explanation I got from my shrink when I asked her why I was so good at screwing myself. I chose a man who I knew would hurt me so that I could continue with my incessant fights with this thing called life. I have always had to fight for things and I thought, albeit unconsciously, that even with marriage, I could fight and change, ergo, my man. When that did not work as I had envisioned, I had to go back to the drawing board.

Some people tell me I was extremely lucky to walk away and finalize the divorce. Others say I was very lucky to move on. These are opinions of people who are not me so allow me to tell you what I think. Fortunate to not have had a baby. By default or by design.

It is all well-preserved hogwash. Balderdash. Shut up world.

I do not feel lucky. I did not, for Chrissake, walk down the aisle so that I could walk right up. We all accept that marriages end but no girl wishes hers to be the one that does. So yes, I may not feel as jammy as I get labelled.

Do not get this twisted, given another chance, I would definitely get that divorce and sooner than I did. I would still look at the man I once called mine and say enough is enough. I am alluding to the fact that fortunate is not how I see myself. Stories of picture-perfect couples I call friends do not help the matter. It is not strange to find myself sad at weddings and crying at christenings. I remember what I do not have. I must say it. Oh I am sorry if you expected a shell of a woman. No. I see things. I think about them and I definitely wish many things would not be or would be and such other self-tormenting thoughts.

Turns out I still succeed at breaking my own heart. I should now get an award . ha ha.

The truth still, is that I let all these feelings of unfulfilled wishes wash over me. I let every dark emotion course through my veins like the poison it is. I have allowed hard times to weigh me down properly until they can’t anymore.

As a matter of fact I remember crying the other day and naming every drop of tear that fell from my eyes. I called one strength, the other wisdom, another compassion, understanding, one more discernment. I had a love tear, a hope tear and a better-day tear. I also allowed the river of anger to stream freely from my eyes . Anger pulled with it fear and fear balanced its legs on my lower eyelids before making small rivulets down my chubby cheeks. The session lasted shorter than I had hoped for.

if you try to gloss over the truth or massage it, more often than not you arrive at erroneous conclusions. That is my truth. I have learnt to wear my unspoken with aplomb. I have learnt that I will hurt even years from today. I will hurt even when IO get married again and even if that marriage will turn out to be what God authored, hurt I will.

Hurting will not escape me when friends seem to be so happy in their marriages, whether on camera or privately. Pain, Like a ghost in the night, will visit me when I remember some four years I spent teaching a fish how to climb a tree. Misery will engulf me when friends post photos of their babies and I am left to wonder kwani what did I do wrong? Yeah, I will ask God many questions too. God and myself.

Mostly myself because well, Papa God answers to no man.

I will want to deactivate all my social media accounts or perhaps go and live in the heart of China where social media is rumors and suggestions. I will feel all these and more.

However, I will still chart my way forward. I will believe that I am human and to not make dumb moves is to be robotic. I am not. To be low is human as Christ had a moment where He too wished to not drink from the cup that was his shameful death by crucifixion. this is where most of us go wrong. The journey to love is both pain and pleasure. You have no choice but to take them both.

We must learn to accept that life does not owe us happiness.

If that is so then, we must allow life to happen and appreciate the good with the bad. God, after creating people, He handed everyone their own small hell to handle. You will never outrun your hell. You will not out-smoke or out-drink or out-whatever-terrible-things-you-do. In fact, you won’t out-sex your hell.

Have fun with it. Embrace it because that is the only way to be human. You will appreciate your journey once you have faced that little piece of pain and risen in spite of it. Like demons, which i will address in the next Lifestyle topic, create a circus for your pain and join in. Control the strings and let the pain dance to your tune.

You own the pain. It does not own you.

Thank you for passing by.


No sassy quote can describe the sound of loneliness as it carries your heart.

This is the last time I am typing this paragraph. I have offered burnt offerings to the gods of my forefathers hoping that just this once, I write half a page. Writing is supposed to be meteoric for me but lately it has been a constant skid in the mud and a painful drag on earthen floor. As earthen as my grandma’s hut.

I have been an average female who has refused to let go of what defined her when she was still starting in her career. I have refused to move on. Moving on is a sexy idea. What with feminists preaching self-love and the internet saying how cool it is to be a new person. New mindset and if you please, a new wardrobe. Unfortunately, what I lack in flexibility I cannot even compensate in fashion. I am as old as a cat. Why a cat? I think cats don’t have nine lives. They are just old.

I finally received the complete judgment of the judge who laid a final verdict on my marriage. She wrote in such exaggerated legal jargon that I wondered if that was my story summarized in a few words. The words cut through the blackest of spaces. And I am very black to be fair.

As much as possible, I am supposed to be happy and relieved. Happy or relieved.Both.However there is an unceasing gnaw of ache in my spirit. I keep going back in my mind to days I spent as a happily married girl-or what I imagined was happy. I especially keep rewinding the month of August before I walked down the aisle in September. Sometimes the voices in my head suggest time travel.

I recall days the choir of lassies invaded my privacy and candidly reminded me that I was a means to some end. I ignored them and labelled them envious. In positively glowing ways exactly as I would have loved to see them in hell at that time.

All signs indicated that getting married to my then fiancé was a terrible idea. For starters, he was yet to make peace with his demons. Talking of which, you can’t escape your demons. I enrolled mine in a circus and we are having the time of our life. They are the eye of the fire in my life. I stare at it and no, it won’t blink.

There is a certain shame one feels when they realize that the castle they built was made of eggshells. There is an undeniable loss when one realizes every dream they had was actually a dream. I have been wanting to scream and shout at the son of my former mother in law. I swear I had a few wonderfully crafted things to tell him. Words that cut across me like a network of dry riverbeds. I wanted to talk to him on a bright dawn just before the sun slit through the curtains.

It was the suggestion of the Demon-In-Chief in my head to remind him that he was the first tree in my forest yet he burnt it.The Deputy Demon said he burnt it down because it was never his forest.It was my uncanny ability to make terrible decisions. I had to choose whether to wallow in the cesspit of pity or learn the lesson and hope to make more creative mistakes in future.

I have not stopped to preach to myself that I will be alright someday. I have not lied to the girl in me that someday it won’t hurt. I know that it will hurt. Especially when I look at the judgment and the Decree from the court. There is abusive marriage and there is something about seeing the details on paper.

I asked my lawyer if he was sure that that was my story. He sadly reminded me the day I went to make an Initial statement. You see, divorce must be factual. You must be able to prove to the law that you have grounds for it.That was when I hated my life a little bit. Do not get me wrong, I am grand. However I can be a wee bit daft too.

I typed the exact things that had been happening in my otherwise perfect home and I broke down staring at the screen. As the cursor left space after space after every diabolic atrocity nobody should do to another human being; especially a human being they walked with down the aisle, my heart ripped open. Small rivulets of thirsty blood spilled out. Small tributaries of anguish welled up and overflowed in the form of tears. Unhappy tears that dripped drop after drop on the desk of my solicitor. I asked for a lawyer, not a therapist. It seemed like I needed both.

So with the inevitable sheet of pain lying idly on my desk, I had to choose.

I made the choice to embrace that part of my story. To stare at it and wink sometimes. To hug it to my warm bosom and then throw it off a cliff. There is no prison greater as the one in one’s mind. The moment we break the chains and set sail towards Island Freedom, no gates of captivity can contain us.

It pays to be at perfect harmony with the ghosts of one’s mistakes. The heart may be fragile and coated with a thin layer of hurt but it is all we have sometimes. Much as I hated looking at the full judgment, I had to surrender myself to the emotions it brings.

I decided to give in to the pain and brokenness this particular writing would bring me.To dive into the darkness emanating from a strike of the pen and a dropping of the gavel. To actually take a walk into the bottom pit. It is only by going dark can one see the rays of light. When we hit the rock bottom of desperation, anxiety and foreboding, we can see so many pathways to the top.

I have become good at feeling bad. I have allowed negativity to latch and suck onto my soul like a baby unquenched at the mother’s breast. That is how I am able to walk into positivity. Not because I believed in myself but because I did not. I do not win at self-motivation and maybe that is what someone wants to hear. That they are perfectly fine feeling terrible. That they are perfectly dandy even if hours and hours of psychotherapy have not helped to ease the pain.

That it was not meant to work like some pixie dust. It was meant to be grilling and as long as they are putting in the work, we shall all be alright. Probably not fully but we will not sit and stare at our wounds forever.

Getting out of bed and doing something other than count the number of tiles in the room, going to work and actually loving it, waking up to meet some much needed friends and going out in the bright sunshine or wintry night; these have become my absolute tiny victories. I have found solace in the written word. It is funny how it leaves me when it is out there. It is hellishly liberating.

Words are the sauce with which to serve a perfectly ruined lunch.


you are about to exceed the limits of my medication

Linda is an 88 year old lady with a hump on her back. I initially stared when she first was brought by Rose, her daughter, to our Renal unit. I know I should not have stared I know but these my eyes! Humped she might be but her humor was as straight as a roundabout. She joked that what God denied her in shape compensated in her buttery mouth.

Linda had been attending a medical outpatient clinic somewhere in the leafy suburbs of Nairobi. The consultant she had been seeing had declared her to have a myriad of age-related problems. These are Rose’s words not mine. Hypertension to Diabetes to Arthritis and an array of others that I have forgotten to remember.

The events leading to their visit on that sunny Thursday afternoon was a more recent hospitalization at yet another well-to-do private hospital. Interestingly, the same consultant saw her at this hospital with a severe case of headache, irretractable vomiting and diagnosed her with End Stage Renal Disease and acute hemodialysis was started.

Later, Rose and her mother were to learn that that was just the beginning to a lifelong visit to renal unit. Given the close proximity of our Unit to the interior parts of central Kenya where this family lives, they came to book a slot for this fine lady. Linda had a prescription of about fifteen medications and supplements most of which counteracted with each other. I remember calling Doctor K with palpable anguish in my voice.

He is our renal pharmacist. He has become a darling to all the patients on hemodialysis. He has helped many manage their medications with a rationale behind each and every tablet. He came and I could see the look of dismay as he went through the prescription that dear old Linda was on.

Mom and daughter were initially skeptical seeing that it is a consultant who had been dealing with them in a major private hospital but here we were, in a government owned facility, with some young-ish lad wearing a white lab coat telling them that we had to get rid of some of these impossibly expensive drugs. It has been five months and the blood parameters of Linda have greatly improved painting a vivid picture of adequate dialysis. A fete impossible to achieve if the medication regime is a display of rumors and suggestions.

#TeamPhoenix that brings me to the gist of our #KidneyWednesday today. In our Kenyan setup, rarely does End Stage Renal Disease happen overnight. Moreso in the elderly, and those with Diabetes Mellitus and/or hypertension, End Stage Renal Disease does not come upon us like a thief in the night. Linda did not suddenly develop renal failure. It was a case of omission from the doctor attending her. He had omitted telling her that she was in the early stages of renal disease and therefore refer her to a nephrologist early enough.

The medications that a renal patient uses must be carefully examined by a clinical renal pharmacist. Most of the drugs used to treat hypertension will more often than not raise Potassium levels . Now ,in a Patient with end stage renal disease, high Potassium levels is the last thing you want to deal with. Some of them will cause fluid retention in the body. In end stage renal disease, fluid retention in the lungs, heart and other areas of the body is the last thing you want to handle.

Renal Pharmacology is a very ignored area as far as management of renal patients go. That coupled with our lack of regulation of public chemists place our patients at dire risks of renal emergencies and deterioration of the disease. #TeamPhoenix, We learnt that the only thing we can do with chronic kidney disease is slow its progression, right? Please tell me you remember that lesson…

In our endevour to slow the disease progression, we alleviate the sting of complications and help the patients live lives that are as close to normal as possible. Unless we do not really mean what we say, these tablets must be evaluated to give them a clean bill of health. These tablets must come with renal instructions. Pharmacists at the chemist must at least ask the customer about their kidney health. You as the mwananchi must learn to ask the pharmacist if the drug you want to buy is safe for you or someone suffering kidney disease.

Learn to ask because there are always safer options.

As the Nephrology nurses, we can only do so much in terms of dialysis. We need a robust support from the Pharmacists and the general medicine-buying-culture in Kenya to achieve some sort of milestones in our ardent fight against Chronic Kidney Disease. There are many classes of anti hypertensives and not all are to be used in a patient on dialysis. The same applies to anti-diabetics. I must say I am proud of Doctor K. He manages to explain to the patients the WHY before changing the drugs for the patients. That is a character lacking in many of our doctors and nurses in Kenya.

Not many medics teach before treating. That to a great extent, explain the huge percentage of non-compliance to treatment modalities. It is futile to tell people to follow some way without explaining why they need to follow it. I am an avid advocate of public health education so this touches my heart.

It is your health and that of your loved ones. Please ask questions as far as medications go.

Thank you for passing by.