BROKEN RINGS

my fault was falling in love,
and forgetting to pack a parachute

“I do not want another group therapy!” I barked to Leila. She is the coordinator of Divorce care program at my new church. The church had been announcing these feel-good-it-was-not-your-fault meetings for all divorced or separated people in the congregation.

One Sunday afternoon I had written my phone number and name as an expression of interest. I changed my mind immediately but the list had gone back to the ushers. I was too embarrassed to recall it. Leila called after I missed the first and second introductory meetings. I escaped by being very rash and telling her what I had been thinking about for long-death.

It beat me how a loving God could allow His creation (me) to suffer in the hands of others. Had I not done everything to be a good girl?

Well, I know my browsing history was questionable but then again, that wasn’t a mortal sin or was it? The Ten Commandments from the good old Moses had not expressly prohibited me from watching interesting videos you know. That plus when you want to do wrong you will always find a way to justify it.

Anyway God and I were sort of in the middle of a fight. I wanted him to kill me just like he had killed my marriage. He was having none of that.

How do you explain being married at 26, being separated at 27 and divorced at 28? Where do you even start? When they talk of a group therapy for divorced folks, what I visualized was a group of bitter middle-aged women (never men) crying about their half-assed exes, passing some scrunched up wet tissues around and pretending to love each other.

A group of unbelievably irritating women whose husbands had irritated them unbelievably.

I imagined a divorced and very bitter facilitator who’d swing her sore neck towards the crowd and remind them of the theme of the group.

Facilitator: Who are we?

Members: Divorcees!

Facilitator: What do we know?

Members: All men are the same!

Then she would smile sadistically at the gullible listeners and lift a cup to her dry lips. Inside the cup would be a few splashes of coffee cold as her soul.

I did not want that. I did not want anybody to tell me how to handle my loss. Or was it a loss really? How do you lose what you never had? So I had resorted to identifying myself as just a single girl.

There is nothing like erasing that part of your life. The dangerous D word will always hover around you like an un-avenged spirit. You may be as successful in life as Oprah but you’re divorced. You may even be a president but Missy, you are divorced. You may get married again and be very happy in the new marriage but people will always remember the divorce.

If you let it, it can define everything. Divorce can be you if you allow it.It can become a slice of anger in the pie of your brain.

When you die, they will write your eulogy mentioning that you were divorced at some point in your life. They won’t let us forget. It is a cancer that scourges our very spirits. Divorce feels like eating your own heart.

The group therapy turned out to be the trampoline upon which I sprung my emotional life upwards. The pillar upon which my emotions finally stood. Finally I could confidently say yeah,it was well worth it.

Men and women of all ages shared horrific stories of their sour marriages. Men cried like little babies. I remember telling God how he has a wicked sense of humor. Why did these apparently great guys date sisters of Jezebel? Why did myself, a moderately sane girl marry Cain’s distant cousin? Where were they when I was looking for a life partner? Where was I when they were looking?

But Thanos once said we are villains in somebody else’s story. The exes were the villains. We, the model Christians were the superheroes without capes. Many told me how sad they were at me having to leave the marriage that fast.Others called it brave. Some said the fact that there were no children involved was a blessing in disguise. I felt confused. Too much noise for me, too much.

Twenty eight isn’t like the worst I could do with myself. I had done other things before twenty eight and I have a feeling they will count someday. The facilitator said the earlier the better.

I could not care how early or late it was. All I knew is no sooner had I walked down the aisle than I wanted to walk right up. But it was too late and my parents and everybody looked so goddamned merry. Partly that and partly because I was hungry too and wanted to hurry up to go eat the nice smelling pilau they had cooked for the occasion.

Pilau for the bride…yummy!

I also wanted to see the African-themed cake I had chosen from Mrs.Muigai.I badly wanted to see how it turned out (perfect friends, perfect). I wanted to see the decoration in the reception field. Douglass was the one in charge of decorations. I remember asking him to particularly erect white pillars and have a climbing plastic flower on each. I wanted to make sure the said flower was in place.

Stop laughing.

Eleven weeks of therapy and finally I knew with a very deep certainty that I authored the marriage. I was ready to be a wife to somebody who wasn’t even able to define husband. I was ready to be a mother too but I had not envisioned mothering a full-bearded man.

I was a broken girl too marrying to get fixed. I was not at peace with myself and I sought peace in marriage. I was not happy with myself and I wanted somebody else to make me happy.

I could not face rejection. I could not admit like his friends had admitted that the relationship was running on my very blood. I saw what I wanted to see. I saw a family with two tiny weeny babies and nothing was going to stand in the way.

I wanted to fix my husband. I wanted to solve his problems. I am still paying for that in the form of a bank loan. I wanted to make him stop drinking, stop cheating, stop lying, be responsible, love me even. God, how I wanted him to love me!

I knew I would support my man in all ways but I had not counted on being the one to pay for everything every time.I was ready to accommodate my partner but I had not dreamt of accommodating cheating, emotional manipulation and humiliation.Those,I had not factored In the equation.

I knew I am a good communicator but I did not know I had to shout and apologize for seeking explanations. I did not plan on being a detective but I eventually graduated from the Cheating Husbands School of Detectives. I spied. I found things out.

And when I did, I could not stop. That is the problem with finding out. You can’t help but keep doing it again and again and again. It is a feedback loop from hell. You take that phone to check what mischief he’s up to.Your gut tells you that it will be just like last time but you can’t help but go right ahead to confirm.

A sick obsession.Voyeurism to some extent. You found nudes of a woman who wasn’t you last week and you broke a few glasses which were a gift at the wedding.

There are so many of those—glasses. Kenyans have a glassy place in their hearts as far as wedding gifts go.

He said he was just being a good guy by appreciating other people. He even accused you of not wanting him to have friends. He said you have anger issues. You apologized and sucked his cock.Bobbing your tired head up and down his manhood as he scrolled up and down his phone to the rhythm.

You hoped to show him that you suck better than Maria or was it Mary?

He did not care. Oh, he cared for the head, just not yours.

Today you are holding that phone again, yours this time because you already know how to hack his Whatsapp account. All his messages come to your phone too. You can see more text messages of a new girl praising his bed skills.

A sting of jealousy hits you like a nauseous wave from the trench. You can’t remember the last day he touched leave alone made love to you. It is always you initiating the half-hearted lovemaking. You were degraded to begging for sex.Just like in food,the main course always disappointed.Normal married people have sex.At least they should. The pastor said it in the premarital counseling sessions.

You cry and call him to ask him why he is doing this to you. Are you not a good wife? What are you doing wrong? Does he want you to walk away? He listens, never says a word and hangs up. You now have to spend the rest of the afternoon sulking at your classmates and crying because the tall guy chose to sit in front of you and he’s blocking your view of the presentation!

Yet you keep finding out. The beginning of the end is when you’ve degraded yourself so much from finding that there’s nothing left to find out but walk away.

Because you are very Proverbs 31,you one day enroll for counseling sessions to fix yourself and be a better wife to, ‘the best man in the whole world.’ One day the fight is so bad that you get physical and almost kill him.

There is a meeting between the two of you and his parents. His mum, the sweetest mother in law any lady could ask for, looks at you with eyes filled with a silent understanding.

Later when you finally dissolve the marriage, you remember cryptic words that that woman had shared with you one Sunday afternoon.

This was the second time you were having a meeting. The Sunday was the color of pigeons. Just lacking in the tranquility. “Sometimes the best thing is to be apart for people to think about what they really need.” I have come to accept that parents want their children happy. They rarely think about the other parents’ child. This one did.

The thing about a divorce is that it bruises you. Even if it turns out to have a healthy afterlife, you remain tainted by the experience. How you react afterwards is entirely your responsibility. I realized I was married but not married. I chose to wear my scars as remembrance beads of my bracelet on my hand.Every time I look at them I see their transformation.

Each experience, they say is an opportunity to learn. I wish that were true. You do not need pain to learn. I did not need it.I could have done without it.However some of us are Balaams, unless the Biblical donkey speaks, we don’t trust angels. My donkey spoke.

People say time heals. I think that is not entirely true. God healed me by force. He had to set my head right this time.I made peace with my past. I confronted my fears of rejection and failure. I faced my worries of who to be without being Mrs. Him. I faced the pain of loving and losing. I had to separate myself from the chaos that had defined my life away from the common populace.

Sometimes we get attached to our misery. I was. What would I do without arguing with him? What would I do if I was not hurting from one thing or the other? Counseling and group therapy helped me find a new normal. I had to start loving peace, tender love and understanding.

I had to appreciate good people and let bad people be. My mission on earth isn’t to mend fraying fabrics, I deserve complete outfits.

ACUTE KIDNEY FAILURE

Just like we agreed last week,today we shall have a quick look on this sudden fail of kidneys.One of you told me that doctors give wrong diagnosis by saying that a person has to live on dialysis for the rest of their lives.Her argument was based on her sister had had a few sessions of dialysis and had her kidneys fully recovered.

Now friends,two major forms of kidney failure exist.The first is what I have discussed in various Wednesdays here and on Facebook where it all begun. That is Chronic Kidney Disease .Type #KidneyWednesday on my Facebook profile Cate Mimi and it will bring up all the series we have had since last year..The other is what is called Acute kidney injury mostly called by many acute kidney failure.

This is a reversible,temporary shut down of kidneys’ ability to produce urine.It means that if we intervene as soon as possible,we will help the kidneys to get back to their full potential.That explains why the lady’s sister received a few hemodialysis sessions and recovered.

It is important for me to highlight that if acute kidney injury is not treated in good time,it has a high chance of progressing to Chronic kidney injury.I will tell you of a story next week on Wednesday in relation to this.Something that breaks my heart to date.

A sudden reduction in the amount of urine production is usually the first sign of acute kidney injury.It means that you have been drinking water and other fluids normally(2000mls at the minimum) but somehow the amount of urine you have produced in the last 24hours can not even measure up to 500mls.

let me say that slowly…reduction of urine production not attributed to a reduction in fluid intake.That is what I am talking about.

What follows is fluid retention.The skin under your eyes start swelling and you will more often than not attribute it to lack of enough sleep.What surprises me in my not-so-old practice as a Renal nurse is how assuming Kenyans are in matters kidney health.We had a client who came to the unit in acute pulmonary edema.On history taking she said it was three days since she passed urine and that was alright to her.It still bothers me how we as a people do not pay attention to our bodies.

Maybe that is why I keep writing and hoping that you will stay informed.

There are many causes of acute kidney injury.In a nutshell,any factor causing a reduction in blood supply to the kidneys will impair its abilities to produce urine.If blood supply is not restored fast enough,the renal tubules will become acidic and fail to filter as they should.A good case is a severe hemorrhage as from a road traffic accident or commonly,post postpartum.That is after child delivery.

Postpartum hemorrhage accounts for many cases of acute kidney injury in Kenya.The statistics were released just last week by one of the Kenyan dailies.Besides reduced blood flow,direct injury to the kidneys is enough to cause a sudden shutdown of the same.This could be physical like from blunt trauma ,sharp objects or in the form of poisons to the kidneys.

Case on point is alcohol poisoning where large doses of alcohol metabolites clog the kidney tubules rendering them useless.That explains why your doctor will recommend urgent hemodialysis in cases of severe alcohol poisoning.That also happens with organophosphate poisoning like in the case of attempted suicide or poisoning with the common pesticide Malathion in Kenya.

These chemicals directly hurt kidney tubules and her blood vessels and we must remove them as soon as possible by way of dialysis.Usually hemodialysis.

In infants and children,Kenyatta National Hospital among other private hospitals,offers peritoneal dialysis which is a very child friendly mode of dialysis.In the aforementioned population,acute failure of kidneys is caused by severe dehydration mostly as a result of diarrhea and vomiting or other infections which will cause dehydration.Neonatal sepsis causes a generalized state of toxicity in the bloodstream and the tiny baby kidneys are unable to cope with the increased work of filtration,hence they shut down.

Doctors will prescribe aggressive medications as the neonatal and nephrology nurses focus on dialyzing the tiny weeny baby to remove the excessive wastes.

In all cases,it takes a matter of days (most of the times) for the kidneys to open up and make as much urine as the fluid you’re ingesting.It takes stages which I promise to not exhaust you with.Full recovery is progressively expected within six months.We must monitor patients lab values until we are happy with them.

What you should know is that any unexplained reduction in urine production is a cause for alarm.The other signs follow later like legs swelling and all that.Pay attention to your urinary elimination patterns.

When a lady is pregnant and they get diagnosed with a high blood pressure,it is very important for her to follow the advise of the doctor on taking the blood pressure medication.Sometimes it may mean an early delivery to save her life.

please stop treating yourself.Do not term it normal stress of pregnancy.A high blood pressure in pregnancy IS NOT NORMAL.I know I am shouting here.

As usual I will be happy to answer your questions.

FROM A FRIEND

Kidneys….

“My grandmother died of kidney failure. That was way back in 1985,” My good friend paused sipped his tea and gazed right back at me. After a while I motioned him to continue. “Wasn’t there anything they could have done?” He gave me a faint smile. “I was five then and would never have known what was going on. But later I did ask–she had suffered for years from blood pressure,”he concluded.

The kidneys could not take it anymore and they could not afford a transplant. Even in those days, transplants were rare and expensive. I said sorry and he nodded his appreciation. So we sat there lost in our own thoughts pensive for a while and my mind wandered again to our country’s Kidney welfare.

Currently, about one in every 10 persons has some form of chronic kidney disease and about four million Kenyans are affected with a significant proportion of this population progressing to kidney failure.

It is estimated that 4.8 million Kenyans will be suffering from kidney disease by 2030. The two main causes of Kidney disease are diabetes and high blood pressure and these two account for about two thirds of the damage the others are obesity, smoking and high cholesterol level.

Let’s now look at the cost side of things. In the past years, the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) has made significant progress in supporting patients with chronic kidney disease, with payouts for treatment of kidney failure last year, increasing by 41 per cent, seeing the insurer pay up to Sh1.8 billion for dialysis. This was an increase from Sh1.24 billion spent in the 2016/2017 financial year, highlighting the burden of the procedure to insurers. A scrutiny of the benefits package utilisation report also shows that in the last half of 2018, NHIF paid a further Sh64.7 million towards kidney transplants, up from Sh21.7 million the previous year. This makes the procedure one of the top expenditure items in the health care benefits package.

Why the story and the stats you may ask. It’s because from these numbers it’s clear that the problem is only getting worse.Though one can argue that the awareness has also grown. It’s also because from the above there is something we can do before we start thinking of cure so here are a few tips

Control your blood sugar if you have diabetes.

Keep a healthy blood pressure.

Follow a low-salt, low-fat diet.

Exercise at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.

Keep a healthy weight.

Do not smoke or use tobacco.

Limit alcohol.

Remember diabetes and high blood pressure are the main causes of Kidney failure.So please keep these in check.

In other editions to come, we shall talk about the bionic kidney as the future of dialysis expands beyond the hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. Remember our lessons.

DIETARY NEEDS IN CHRONIC KIDNEY DISEASE

A friend wrote to me and asked me why the nurses and everyone in the renal team managing her mother insisted upon curfews upon curfews of dietary restrictions.She sadly told me her mum’s diet was tantamount to ash–bland.I really understand her concerns and those of many others.I partly blame this perception on lack of proper counseling and explanation on the disease process of chronic kidney disease.

Let us do some basics here and hopefully by the end we shall have understood why and what is allowed or not in renal patients.

Please note that I am talking from a perspective of Chronic kidney disease and not Acute kidney injury which we will discuss next week on #KidneyWednesday.

The kidneys have a role in eliminating a very important waste called urea from our body.Urea is usually as a result of protein metabolism.We normally have such a fine balance between the proteins we eat and what is in the bloodstream.This is because the kidneys maintain the harmony by excreting the excess urea in urine.

Now,when kidneys are no longer working,this metabolite accumulates in the bloodstream trying to escape.It sticks onto the skin and in a patient acutely ill you may see this as a few patches of whiteness on the face called uremic frost.It looks like the person has an unnaturally dry skin and it is quite itchy.

That is not all,too much urea clogs in the gut making the person have a severe case of diarrhea and or vomiting.If nothing is done,the urea will easily cross the protective membrane in the brain called the rain blood barrier.This will present as confusion,hallucination and such and you may wrongly diagnose the patient as being ‘crazy.’These are just some of the signs.Every system is affected differently by high levels of urea in the blood.

What we do therefore is eliminate as much sources of urea as possible.It is important for people to eat foods rich in proteins but our renal patients do so cautiously.Even then,special preparation of lentils,beans and such other plant-based proteins is called for.This is because the best protein is the one that has a high biological value.This is mainly white meet.Small portion is allowed ,approximately the size of one’s fist.

The problem is,our patients can barely manage to pay for the fare to attend the dialysis sessions.How do we expect them to afford chicken,rabbit and fish?

Pause and reflect.

That is why we end up guiding them on how to minimize the assault that plant-based proteins have on them.

The other culprit is Potassium.We need this electrolyte for many functions in our body.Most foods are rich in potassium.The body does not store potassium.It maintains a safe level again through kidneys function of elimination.Excess Potassium is excreted in urine.When there is a high level of potassium,the heart senses it very fast and this causes a cardiac arrest and death in most cases.

Potassium is found in bananas,pineapples,oranges and most green leafy vegetables.The Renal nutritionist advises total abhorrence of these fruits(and many other),as well as special preparation of green leafy vegetables.

Therefore we advise patients to boil first the vegetables,rinse out and fry without tomatoes because these again contain a good amount of potassium.

I know it looks bleak when I write this.It looks very unappetizing and downright grim.I wish it was different.Look,your kidneys and mine function 24 hours a day and 7 days a week around the four seasons of the year.Renal patients get to ‘clean their blood’ only twice a week.

How fair is that?What will happen if they have too much urea and too much potassium in their blood before the next dialysis session?

I know in the developed world the patients dialyse thrice a week but well,this is Kenya.

Thank you for passing by.

The Renal Unit

The burden of kidney disease in Kenya is highly underappreciated.This is evidenced by the general acute poverty of data to give the nation a clear picture of the extent of kidney failure amongst our people.Yet day in and out Renal units are sprouting anywhere there is a town.

The government under the Medical Equipment Services launched a campaign that saw every County in Kenya get a renal unit with about five Hemodialysis machines.

This move was golden.However the joke was that there were no trained Nephrologists and Nephrology Nurses to run these units.These professionals were concentrated at Kenyatta National and Teaching Referral hospital (KNH).

I work in a County whose first renal unit had to run by offering locums to nurses from KNH so as to run the renal unit until the county could train her own nurses.

I know this story is replicated all across the 47 counties.That is the problem we sometimes,(read always) have as a nation.We do not plan.We are fond of jumping onto the current trending topic,whip a few emotions then abandon the idea altogether.We start cars and don’t fuel them.We start songs without tunes.We dive without oxygen tanks.We hate preparation.And when we sink,we cry foul.

See,it is Paramount that renal units are ran by qualified individuals.That means Nephrology nurses do more than circulate blood through a pump.We must achieve adequate dialysis and for that reason we go back to school to specialize.It is funny then that when we come back to the Renal unit,armed with enviable skills and knowledge,the unit lacks supplies.

I wish that the renal unit was handled with as much tenderness as a newborn baby.Patients depend on the effective and efficient running of the unit.If they do not dialyse adequately,we condemn them to a life of misery and death then say if only…

We cannot continue having sessions interrupted because there are no consumables.There is nobody to repair the ever-breaking down water unit,no gloves and some other weird circumstances Renal nurses have to contend with.

As far as Hemodialysis goes,it’s very easy to transmit a myriad of blood-borne diseases if the required standards of care are not met.That is why time and again County Renal units close down in the name of waiting for supplies.This should never be allowed to happen.

We need to plan (I know it’s expecting too much from the ministry of health) otherwise the same people we claim to want to help will lose their lives prematurely.Thanks to our casual approach to the seriousness of an effective Renal unit.

Other privately owned renal units have come in to cover the man-made gap conveniently created by our public hospitals.However most of these are set up,not to help,but to make money.The fact that the National Hospital Insurance Fund(NHIF) gives good kickbacks is the motivation.

Some of these units are ran by professionals and that is a very impressive aspect of care.

However some are not.They keep employing people who are not Nephrology nurses but because on-the-job training has made them know how to operate a machine,they become the Dialysis nurses.

Talking of which,there is a difference between a Nephrology and a Dialysis Nurse.The latter can connect and disconnect a patient from a machine.The former can tell why and how not to or to dialyse a patient and assess for its adequacy.

This,friends of God,is the difference between life and quality of life.

NHIF only pays for the session of Dialysis and not the many drugs the patients are on.Not the many tests the patients must have done.Makes me ask,is Hemodialysis really free as long as one has is an NHIF contributor?

Private Renal units use this loophole to charge for the drugs and tests as they wish.

The charges are usually arm,a leg and a slice of your liver.Add that to an already financially drained patient.

Extortion.

Exploitation.

Blood money.

The best we can do is hope that one day the government-owned facilities will run flawlessly.

Let there be a set-apart team overseeing every aspect of supplies to the renal unit.It is a matter of life and death.Just have what is needed at the time it is needed to avoid stopping.Then.Starting.And.Stopping.Of Hemodialysis sessions for our patients.

Supplies and maintenance are to a Renal unit what a pen and chalk are to a teacher.

Raise your glasses a better Renal unit!

#KidneyWednesday.

BEAUTIFUL SCARS

Why could he not say something more thought-provoking? But magic is simple if you look at it.If you stare at blankness, eventually it speaks to you. Not in words, but in the absence of words. That is magic.

I have been here you know. Sitting by the shores of Forest River wondering where these tiny ripples are coming from. I do that quite often when I need silence. Come to the river I mean. It is the thing I do. Lately I have been in an emotional upheaval. Hitting low lows. The flowing water carries with it solace for puttering souls.

I have also been stalking people on Facebook. Handsome people. I can even draw their Facebook Family trees. I like staring at their photos and then pretending I have not seen them. We are all silent stalkers stop rolling your eyes at me.But we won’t all admit it.Closeted stalkers. Facebook is a community of saints and archangels. I have no idea why I tell myself I need some silence yet carry my phone with me to the River. You tell me.Why do I do that? This gadget makes enough noise to awaken the dead.

Take the trainees’ conference I attended the other day. We were supposed to interact with each other. But the conference room was illuminated by hundreds of small expensive boxes and orchestrated by the thousands of tiny fingers tapping away. Global village without the village part. Just global.

There is a group I belong to on Facebook. Through it I keep myself informed. Especially now that my TV divorced me.Just the other day one of the group Administrators was heralded to court by some famous politician. She was said to be heading a Cartel. I think that makes me a member of a cartel. You should be very afraid child…

It turned out to be hot air. No cartel. Just some quintessential political hyperbole. And unnecessarily disturbing another person’s life because they sort of expose things that are politically incorrect. That and laughter. That group makes you laugh. It hosts half the Kenyan middle class. We feel very accomplished to belong. Keyboard warriors. Sponsors of interesting hashtags on Twirra.What else can a human being ask?

In the process I read a post from one of the admins.It has to do with grown-ups opening up about the scars inflicted upon them growing up through defilement. I shudder. I try to ignore it.

The posts keep coming. People keep getting encouraged to share anonymously. They write. I read. I read again. I cry. I do not comment. I read again, I cry some more. Then now I want to get away from this river and go to another river. My safe place needs safety.

I see it now.Like specks off my blurry eyes,i see it.I have wrapped it long enough, let me tattoo it now. With a pen dipped in red ink. Blood-red.

***

I always knew I was terrible at adulting.Being an adult was no fun at all. I would have wished to go back to my childhood if only it wasn’t shaped in fear and decorated in doubt. I longed to be a teenager in high school.That is the safest I had ever felt.High school.I love my former high school. It is in the heart of Soweto slums next to the sewer-full Nairobi River in Kayole.Folks joke that our school looks like Vasco Da Gama’s pillar. I want to beat them and burn their houses.That and eat their avocados.And lick their yogurt boxes.Hate mongers.

***

I cannot remember how it started. But I remember how it made me feel—helpless. He was my father’s brother. Let us call him Daudi.I was a curious little girl. I loved knowing things. That plus reading. I made everyone proud. A girl bringing home prizes every school closing day to her poor family is a prized possession. We were so poor that the poor in our village called us poor.

I recall him picking me up from my granny’s kitchen, with ashes on my feet and take me to his house. He did that frequently from my class four through class eight. What I always recall with clarity is this day where he made me choose between his penis and his finger. I chose his finger as he jerked himself off. I was in so much pain. I was in class four then.

I told mum one day that I was having pain on passing urine .She told me it was because I had not bathed. Honestly I hated bathing as a kid. My elder sister used to tease that I have large feet because I do not wash them. That girl is a pretty little liar. And I love her. I never reported these episodes to anyone. It went on until I finished my class eight course. He terrified me.I hated how he’d time and again do ‘bad manners’ to me.

My mum, before you all start blaming her, was very busy in other people’s Shambas trying to get some money for our next meal. Dad was away in the big city looking for menial jobs to support us. That plus Daudi had connections with the police. He used to brew chang’aa and he was doing very well.I think I started hating poverty from those episodes. I swore to get educated and get a career so that nobody has to take advantage of me.

Funny because I still got taken advantage of even with a career and a brain. Ha ha.This time by the son of my former mother in law. I think life has a way of showing you its tallest finger. His late wife saved me without knowing. When they got married, he could no longer use me.I could conveniently hide by kwenda kutafuta kuni na akina Julia so that by the time I get home, his wife is also home.

Mum tells me I was a difficult child. I was very stubborn too and I started wetting my bed. My elder sister could soak in my urine from head to toe. Yes there was only one rickety bed which we shared. That girl has seen it all from me.Sometimes I tell her that that was payback for making fun of my feet. We laugh so hard at these memories. I wet my bed all through high school and it was okay because it was a day school and nobody could guess what was happening.

After class eight we came to Soweto to join my dad and that saved me from constant molestation from his brother. I met great teachers. Teachers from the slums that taught me to love myself. Teachers that saw the flowers in me and made sure that I was aware of them. Teachers that I love and respect so much up to now. They do not know my story so relax. They will be as shocked as you are.Ha ha.

Then came nursing school. I became a time bomb. My classmates liked my stellar performance but were afraid of me because I could easily get mad and tell you off. In impeccable English. I was socially isolated in a sea of friends. Extraordinarily good with the patients. A hurting nurse who was everything a patient could need.

Apart from anger, my early twenties were woven in a web of sexual innuendos. After willfully having sex at 19, I started using it against men. I had to use sex to control men. I became Seductress-In-Chief-Of-The-Army-Of-Hell.

I am the type of girl you can’t immediately notice in a crowd. I do not stand out. But I do if you get to talk to me.And men love talking. I had this deep desire to turn a man on then leave him without sleeping with him.

My first boyfriend (the at 19 guy) told me, ”Cate one day I will kill you for what you do to me then leave me hanging.”Sex was a way for me to take back what was taken from me—control.

I also started targeting alpha males. Men who are deemed unavailable. By the way all men are available as far as sex goes child. Thank you for coming to my TED talk. I despised men who were after me.Genuinely interested guys did not meet my erotic standards. Let me paint this for you.

Let us say you are the boss at the company and you somehow showed interest in me.I would use you to get to your boss and his boss because those were the crème de la crème. Remember I am not sleeping with them. Just dangling the carrot and running for my life. It made me feel very good to see a man burning with desire for me.To see him coiling his tail humbly in my presence. Mission accomplished? Next please!

Then the aftereffect…Feeling so so sorry for all men and their ilk. So sorry for their apparent lack of control. But I would do it.Again and again and again. I was bleeding on those that did not cut me.Because my wound was still open.

How I escaped all these unscathed is a mystery to me.Years later, a counselor would tell me I was unconsciously putting myself at risk. I believe her.

Let us fast forward this story.

***

I knew I had a problem and sought help from many sources. Evangelists, men of God, my dear Catholic Church Priest. All thought I was either faking it or was possessed. I mean, I was happy wasn’t I? The life of the party. Ever smiling girl. Made from daffodils and sunlight. How could this be true? A famous lady pastor told me to join her church and I will be delivered. I did not. Another told me to plant a seed and I laughed at him. He no longer talks to me.One of the pastors started getting flirtatious and I blocked him on all channels. I was convinced that I would never get out of this pit.

Late 2017 I almost killed my then husband. I had found him cheating on me for the millionth time and I was going to kill him. The knife was well on his throat and I wanted him stone dead. He sustained the knife marks for some time before the skin regenerated over them. I somehow did not kill him. I dropped the knife. He took it and hid it.I remember texting him a week later asking him where the knife was since I was making a meal in the kitchen and could not get the knife. If he talks about me being a wanna-be-murderer as he does, I understand where he is coming from. That is part of the reason why we are safely out of each other’s lives now, yes?

Givens Mideva started a group of people who have been affected by sexual abuse. She was in the company of Njeri Wa Migwi,and others I may not be able to mention on this post. Survivors Anonymous-Kenya we became. Our first meeting was at Norwich Union house in Nairobi. I hope it is called that way. I wanted to be a better wife to my then husband. I wanted to change and if a group therapy could help, I had nothing to lose. So the journey begun.

I met many ladies who had been through unspoken horrors in the hands of men. True sisterhood manifested itself to me in those sessions. I felt lighter.Safe.Understood.Cared for and for once, I wanted to get better. I really wanted to get better. I realized kumbe I am not the only one. Therapists Margaret Mbuthi and Grace Kariuki took us through more than ten sessions. I was broken. I kept breaking. I broke some more. I blamed myself, my parents, my family, and my husband, everyone in this world but especially God. How could he let me go through so much unspoken pain? Wasn’t I Christian enough?

In one of the months I attempted suicide. This was actually a second attempt. The first one was when I was dating my dear ex-husband. Then I hated myself some more for failing. I had one job –to die and I couldn’t even get it right!

Madam Grace called it peeling the layers of an onion. It made my eyes water. We cried more than we spoke in those meetings. Then the transformation begun and I reconciled with my unhappy child. I went into myself and gave her candy and a hug. Okay that is a lie but it sounds so therapeutic. I healed her. I healed my inner child and I knew that finally, finally I would be alright.

I am no longer afraid of becoming a mother. Yes I hated the idea of being a mum. Because I did not want to have to spend my life in jail if anyone messed with my child. I used to live in my past. I have always been very protective of my siblings but God has helped me to let go and let Him. I keep off extended family gatherings. I will try to attend one soon.

I felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders.

One day in a December, after months of talking to a friend I will call Ian and his other friend Stella, I went back home to face my monster. My parents were aware that I was going to Kirinyaga county but did not know what I was upto.See, Ian had made me accept that I needed to cut myself loose even after counseling.That I needed to physically close the door to my misery. Stella too. They both held my hand and before that date I had been postponing the meeting for several months.

“Daudi, you used me and stole my childhood and I came today to say I hate you. I have hated you for so long and I have hated men for you. However, I have come to bring that hatred to you. That pain is yours and not mine. So here I am in the presence of these two God-fearing people and I say, I set myself free from you.” I tearfully concluded.

 Try saying the above paragraph in Kikuyu or your mother tongue for that matter. Those are the most painful words I have ever had to utter

Turns out he had been looking for words or means to talk to me about it.He was very sorry but to be honest I do not care about his repentance. All I care for is that I stopped my years of agony. That pain I have carried for years, that pain I have used against other people, that pain I have allowed to blind me to my God-given purpose on earth, that pain is rightfully with whom it belongs—Calvin.

Ian and Stella do not discuss with me what happened that day. I know they silently understand me.I have found love in the strangest places. Those two have been my angels. Ian especially. He has made me appreciate that men are not bad. Some are. Just as women aren’t all evil. Some are. His friendship and Stella’s has made me not become a bitter motivational speaker. I also do not judge people. I listen. I am able to set limits too without being nasty.

Ian is married thank you for asking. Stella too. Thank you for your concern.

*** I won’t tell you that pain makes you learn. That is a lie I will never understand no matter how many times motivational speakers use it.We do not need pain to learn anything. Pleasure can do. And

chocolate. Lots of yummylicious bars of unhealthy calories. Pain is pain and do not try to make sense of a senseless thing. It is however a process. With stages. Be willing to go through them. Your light is near.

Many great things started happening all at once and now I had to choose. I chose freedom. Some impossible doors opened like floodgates of heaven. My smile radiated from my heart. I no longer try to please anybody. I started living for me. I filed for divorce too just in case you are wondering.That I will tell you some other time.

Right now I feel tired and my river is having more ripples from the shimmering rain that has just started falling. I need to get back to the house. I will pray tonight. I will pray for all those people sharing on Buyers’ Beware Page. I will ask God to send them a Givens, who will hug them when it hurts.

I will ask God if it’s possible for adults to leave children alone. I will beg Him to heal the child inside every broken adult. Then I will ask Him to protect our children from adults.

But before praying I’ll be on Facebook again. Looking for more handsome profiles to stalk. It is a hobby go sue me.

KIDNEY FAILURE IN STAGES

Last Wednesday we talked about referrals to the renal team.I insisted that anyone suffering Diabetes type 2 and/or High blood pressure needs at least a quarterly check of their Kidney Functions.However why is that important?What if the kidneys have started receiving some form of injury?What next?

See,Chronic kidney disease is categorized in stages 1 to 5.The fifth is what we call End Stage Renal Disease.This is unfortunately where many of our patients on dialysis are.This is because kidney failure as a progressive disease easily gets misdiagnosed as other things.From Malaria(everyone’s favorite tropical disease),to peptic ulcers.

#TeamPhoenix,I want you to understand that these stages can only be qualified as so after a series of blood works.Every stage calls for some specific interventions.Please note that you do not go back.I mean,if you are at Stage 5 and you get a kidney transplant,you do not go back to Stage 1.You remain in the stage you were at,only with a long term renal replacement therapy.

To the exemplary seniors of mine and other specialists,the staging outlined below is for general population education and not critical analysis of the disease.I know there are many sub-stages but allow me to stick to the following.

Stage 1

This is mainly asymptomatic.Namaanisha,hakuna kitu unahisi.You feel alright.The underlying problem is there for instance High blood pressure or Diabetes.The damage to the kidneys is still minimal and the kidneys can still make urine.#TeamPhoenix,si mnakumbuka urine is what we are very interested in as the basic indicator of kidney health?

As a Nephrology nurse,urine excites me. Stop rolling your eyes.It is not some fetish you evil-minded children.I love it when people produce urine .That way I can tell the health of their Kidneys.Ask any renal nurse near you if this is true.(where is the winking emoji?)You will be at Stage one depending on the results of your Creatinine levels.That means you will have some blood drawn and tested.Alafu the doctor or renal nurse will do an estimation of Glomerular Filtration Rate;a calculation.

Please do not give up on me for using hard terms.Let me explain:Estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) is the rate at which your kidneys are making urine by clearing wastes per minute.Normally about 120-125mls/minute/1.73m2 in males and 115-118mls/min/body surface area in females .This varies with age,race,gender and such according to https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/gfr.

In stage one the test is greater than 90mls/min/body surface area.However with associated minimal degree of injury to kidneys.Notably,we find proteins in urine and that is an alert that something is not quite right with the kidneys.Approach to management is mainly slowing the disease progression.

Stage 2

The eGFR is 60-89mls/min/body surface area.The kidneys produce urine but it is very diluted.Meaning wastes are not being cleared as they should be.If the primary problem was not high blood pressure,we start seeing high blood pressure setting in.You urinate a lot and mostly can’t have a good night’s sleep because you keep waking up to pee.

Now,this is the point where we medics mess it up easily.Those signs will most likely make us diagnose you with Diabetes type 2 if we do not take a keen interest in your presentation.

Approach to management again involves slowing down disease progression.

#TeamPhoenix I want you to understand a little something.That kidney failure is progressive and slow.Especially slow.Between stages it can take years and the worst is that we expedite the onset of Stage 5 by mismanaging Stages 1-3.

Sio kupenda kwetu.I am always amazed by the level of genuine ignorance Doctors have on matters Renal failure.Either they ignore it or entirely mismanage it.That says s0mething about need for some form of awareness to us the service providers.

Stage 3

The eGFR is 30-59 ml/min/body surface area.Let not these figures terrorize you.We will do the calculations.

Interestingly you can still lack symptoms.However other systems start feeling the heat.You will present with anemia(low blood level) and we will treat it.You may present with high levels of thyroid hormones and I am sorry to say we may treat you for goiter only.Your cholesterol (bad cholesterol) goes up and we ask you to watch what you are eating and give you some medicines to lower it.

Friends,if we were to practice in some serious set ups,if we were to be healthily healthy about our health,we should be able to discuss with you the source of your problems.We should be able to talk.If one is Diabetic,the National Kidney Foundation recommends that we create a vascular access (Arteriovenous Fistula) at this stage.(https://www.kidney.org/professionals/guidelines/guidelines_commentaries/vascular-access)

Stage 4

The eGFR is somewhere between 15 and 29 ml/min/body surface area.Some patients start dialysis at this stage because the body can’t keep up with the excess wastes and fluids.We start running.If lucky,you do not stat dialysis but get a kidney transplant immediately.That is a good thing but it never happens in my motherland.At least I have not seen it happen.

Stage 5

The eGFR is below 15mls/min/body surface area and we are already on hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis which I told you is not readily available in Kenya.Here we are talking about a patient whose body is so toxic that they need dialysis to sustain life.We call it end stage renal disease because the end is nigh.Every system is tops- turvy.The heart,liver,bones and every organ that can hurt hurts and the person is in so much distress.Financially it is a mess too and they need dialysis to survive.

Trips to the renal unit become the thread by which their lives hang.And we as the renal team ask ourselves,did we have to get here this quickly?

What if we the person came to the Nephrologist at Stage 1?Could we not have at least added a few more sunrises and sunsets to this person?Perhaps another opportunity to finish that project they have been saving up for?Maybe see another child in school?

Free the limited dialysis machines for some more desperate and acute patients?

I think we can if we wanted to.But will we when we want to finish the queue on the outpatient medical clinic and rush to the next available locum?