My aunt had just taken a turn at the famous GPO stage when she started losing her vision; it was blurry. Her mind was dizzying out. It was happening so fast. She tried to get a place to hold on but it was too late. It was her back that hit the hard tarmac first.
She landed on it like a log of wood. A man dressed in a blue slim-fit suit picked up her handbag and made off at a terrible speed. One or two people walked closer to have a look at what had transpired, but after a few minutes, most of them grinned and left. It was on the 27th December 2018; around 10 am.
After some time, a Taxify driver called John Njoroge stopped and helped her into the back of his car and sped off towards Nairobi Hospital. Since she had lost everything, her registration in the hospital poised another challenge. Njoroge, who has since remained one of the closest members of our family took upon himself to help her. He drove his hand into his pocket and paid for her immediate medical checkup.
He was the only connection she had with us…
My uncle had almost run mad when Oliver never showed up that night, the second day…. even for 6 days. He shared his phone number to anyone who stopped to listen to his story. Some conmen took the opportunity to extract money from my uncle by claiming that they had hijacked her.
He walked through all police stations in his determined effort to look for her. He had even risked and visited morgues. When he received a call from Njoroge, he was holding his phone into the ear while bending to have a better glimpse of the face of a corpse in Kenyatta National Hospital.
My aunt lay in bed confused as Njoroge explained the whole story to us. It was not shocking to realize that she had been diagnosed with High Blood pressure.
I must admit that my aunt was unblushingly attached to food; what the millennials call chunk food. Her fried chicken came in halves. She was used to smearing her foods with different types of sauce. Her breakfast could be incomplete without beef or chips. If you risked and served her for two days without supplementing her food with chicken or fish, you could have easily passed as her greatest enemy. She had replaced “tasteless water” with highly caffeinated drinks. She weighed 93kgs.
“She had a heart attack” Doctor James Ochieng informed us,” she is lucky to be alive! ”
My aunt had ignored all the signs that her body was generally not in the best condition. Once or twice in a week, she had experienced shortness of breath and chest pain. Her body weight was also growing at an alarming state.
The doctor prescribed physiotherapy and handed her a few drugs although he insisted that her condition needed strict management as opposed to taking a concoction of drugs. There were drastic changes needed to be taken to help my aunt manage her condition.
The doctor decided that a change of diet was to top the list. He distinctly warned her against smoking and drinking alcohol. When alcohol was mentioned, she meekly raised her eyes to the doctor as if to beg him for an alternative. He sighed and simply said,
“If you want to continue living, you must change your lifestyle.”
When she left the hospital, she came straight to our home and stayed with us for 3 weeks. It was one of the worst periods of her life. She craved cigarettes. She cried and begged. She wanted beef and chicken to supplement her salt-less vegetables that “refused” to go down her throat. She chose to go hungry. She managed to convince herself for about 5 hours but quickly changed her mind and ate. It was a step.
She learned to enjoy fruits and so, we ensured that she had plenty. And she started walking…sometimes jogging albeit for 10 minutes. High blood pressure had nothing on her determination.
When she lost 12 kgs, her will sparked of positivity. She was determined. She was going to live a fulfilled life.
If my aunt could do this, I know, anyone can. There are interventions now available for those who need them. All you need to do is to go to your nearest health facility and seek help. Do not wait until high blood pressure leads to a heart attack like my aunt. Do not wait until you need medication. It starts with you.