LOUD WHISPERS: Clarity In Confusion

In September 1988, I came down with a severe case of malaria fever in London. I had just arrived London from Nigeria and after two weeks of the sharp autumn cold my  body’s defence mechanisms gave way. I was admitted to the London School of Tropical Diseases where I was their guest for a week. On my first evening in the hospital, I woke up to see a number of doctors hovering on both sides of my bed. They were all white and in white coats, and in my fevered state, they looked unearthly. I thought to myself perhaps I am dead. The lead Doctor spoke to them while they all peered at me and took notes. Then the Doctor leant over me and asked me how I was feeling. ‘Not very well’ I responded. I was alone in London. My parents were back in Nigeria. My boyfriend (my future husband) was also in Nigeria. I was scared. Tears welled in my eyes. I looked at the other Doctors again and had a feeling of dread. If I was not dead yet, then perhaps I might be soon. I asked the Doctor what was wrong with me. He pulled himself up and with all seriousness pronounced, ‘You have malaria fever’. I stared at him, waiting for what was to follow. Nothing else came. I asked him, ‘Is that all?’ He was very surprised to see that this was not an earth shattering moment for me. ’Yes, that is all. Have you had malaria fever before?’ He asked. ‘Yes, many times,’ I told him. Right up to that point, I had malaria at least twice a year. There was no long ceremony to it. You were given a Quinine injection, a Novalgin injection and if you were lucky some Phenergan too for the side effects of the medication. It also helped you sleep. After being treated at the London School of Tropical Diseases all those years ago, I have not had full blown malaria ever since. Till last week.

On Monday 22nd August, I left Lagos to attend an African Women Leaders Symposium in Nairobi, Kenya, hosted by OXFAM International. My plan was to arrive on the evening of the 22nd, and spend the 23rd with my good friend Zeedah. She lives in Zurich, but she also has a farm just outside Nairobi, and I have been promising her for years that I would visit. We had arranged to have lunch together on the farm, and I was going to eat grilled chicken and basmati rice with the delicious hot sauce Zeedah makes. By the time I got off the plane in Nairobi on the night of the 22nd, I knew this plan was in trouble. I was running a temperature and I felt as if I had been beaten. I said a silent prayer of thanks that I had not landed at Hong Kong International Airport, where they have sensors to detect your body temperature. I was so grateful to see Ivy, the young lady who had been sent to receive me that I almost collapsed into her arms. I thought I was coming down with a cold, and since it is a viral infection, I was not unduly alarmed. Bad colds can be very uncomfortable, but not life threatening. The next day, instead of going out to the farm, I stayed in my hotel room to rest. I started feeling a bit better, and was prepared for my presentation the next day. The following morning, I was feeling pretty awful, with a hundred bells ringing in my head. I made it to the conference room and managed to give my presentation. After the photographs with other speakers on the opening plenary, I was taken to the clinic. Apparently I had become so dehydrated I needed two drips. After tests had been run the Doctor confirmed a diagnosis of ‘Acute Malaria’. Considering the fact that I had not felt this ill in 28 years, I could understand the ‘acute’ diagnosis. The female Doctor then went on to tell Ivy who had accompanied me that she needed to take good care of me, and that I might act confused. I asked her why I would act confused, was it because of the medication I would be taking? She said no, because of the malaria. The next two days were just a blur. I would slip in and out of sleep, too weak to do much of anything, by this time the bells my head had become a full orchestra. I missed the rest of the conference. I did not become confused, but I had a series of confusing dream sequences. There was however one that stood out. I was running through a tunnel, I don’t know where. As I was running on my part of the tunnel, a little girl was running towards me, laughing, her face all alive. When she saw me, she ran towards me and I stopped to scoop her up in my arms. We both held on tight to each other. And then I knew who the girl was. She was me. That is when I woke up. My fevered brain at first could not make sense of this, but with time, I had some clarity. Perhaps I was in the tunnel running my life’s race, and I met myself, many years ago. A little girl full of hopes and dreams, running through life without a care in the world. And here I was, still full of life, with some dreams come true, aspirations met and goals accomplished, yet running ahead to do more. If I could talk to that little girl now, what would I say to her? I would tell her to keep running. Run because you need to get ahead, not because you are afraid. Run because time waits for no one. Life is scary. Dreams are scary. But keep running little girl. Be strong. Even when you find yourself all alone in a hospital bed in a strange country surrounded by doctors, don’t be scared, keep running. And I would tell her, keep loving. That is the fuel for your race through life. Never stop giving  your time, talent or treasure. Always seek out your friends and spend time with them. And never stop laughing. So what do I tell the adult me? Well, I tell myself to be thankful to God for the gift of life and health. I tell myself to keep running literally and metaphorically. I tell myself there is still so much to do and because the world has become a dark and dangerous place, my part in it has to include working with others to look out for the innocent and vulnerable. I tell myself I am thankful for moments of clarity in the midst of confusion.

Many thanks to my sisters in Nairobi for taking such good care of me. I did get to eat Zeedah’s pepper sauce. It is the only way to get any food through my lips, everything else tastes like sawdust. Keep running dear brothers and sisters. Have a great week.

 Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi is a Gender Specialist, Social Entrepreneur and Writer. She is the Founder of Abovewhispers.com, an online community for women. She can be reached at BAF@abovewhispers.com




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22 Responses to LOUD WHISPERS: Clarity In Confusion

  1. Daniels August 29, 2016 at 2:39 pm

    This is a very wonderful and interesting piece.
    May you be stronger always.

  2. Maveedah August 29, 2016 at 2:53 pm

    Hmmm….Malaria can be a deadly disease…Tnk you for taking care of our own

  3. onozare August 29, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    Amazing how we take issues about our health sooo trival…God is just been soo merciful

  4. D'apoet August 29, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    I will keep running! Perhaps, moving consistently and always aspiring for more is the best way to go about life.

  5. Femi Diipo August 29, 2016 at 3:04 pm

    Yeah, thank God for those few moments of confusion that eventually shed some clarity. And praise God for your good health now ma’am.

  6. precious August 29, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    as we know malaria kill very fast even than other deadly diseases. thanks for the solution

  7. henry August 29, 2016 at 4:25 pm

    really great. malaria is deadly. it kill after than aids.

  8. DSEED August 29, 2016 at 4:31 pm

    Like seriously I found this article so interesting that I don’t even know that the writer is going to drive out this lessons from it. Life is not fair at all, someone just have to strong and remain focus.

  9. DSEED August 29, 2016 at 4:37 pm

    I got a different meaning to this writeup. The malaria here is just a symbol of depression and obstacle in the journey of life. Why the strange doctors are people and things that sorround us. Not been distracted by all this, we need to be focus because life isn’t fair.

  10. lanfem. August 29, 2016 at 4:41 pm

    I thank God for sparing your life from this disease ma. A lesson for all, never take things for levity expectially when it comes to our health.

  11. olaluv August 29, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    To but young and old we all need to keep running. Once their is life their is hope. Thank God for your life ma.

  12. olaluv August 29, 2016 at 5:03 pm

    Thank you Nairobi for taking care of of her for us. This malaria is such a deadly disease. We just have to be very careful.

  13. Olowolafe Olanrewaju August 29, 2016 at 5:40 pm

    Truely, malaria is a very deadly disease. I would have advise our people to visit hospital whenever they feel the symtopms before it eat the body up. But the current economy situation don’t warrant that. When people are still looking for money to buy food to feed on. In case like this am suggesting we should constantly treat ourselves with herbs for prevention is better than cure. Thank God for your life ma. And to your that took care of you, thank you too.

  14. Olakunle.Olajide August 29, 2016 at 7:29 pm

    Thank God for sound health.. Nigerians are used to the malaria fever, just as you were used to it back then. We don’t waste time in purchasing anti-malaria tablets. I remembered a time when i was diagnosed with malaria++ while i was in school, since then i don’t play with running a test. Thank God i am alive and will still keep running.

  15. Legzycool August 29, 2016 at 7:36 pm

    Yes ooo.. I will keep running and i am also grateful for sound health and the accomplishments i have made thus far.

  16. Bisi Fayemi August 29, 2016 at 7:46 pm

    Dear friends,

    Thank you so much for your warm wishes. I am very grateful, God bless you all.

  17. Utibe August 29, 2016 at 11:13 pm

    Thank you for this. I’ll keep loving & running & being thankful. Thank God for restoring your health Ma.

  18. Olakunle Olajide August 30, 2016 at 6:58 am

    You are welcome ma, but you tried oo, malaria fever since 1988, that should be a world record. Thanking God for sound health.

  19. Harryrrah August 30, 2016 at 9:22 am

    Malaria as sweet as d name is can be very deadly and demanding. Because it takes your time and money in severe cases ones life!

  20. Princess August 30, 2016 at 9:30 am

    Hmmmmmmmmn I can’t just read this and keep mute. This write up is awesome, the most amazing part of it is the Doctors in London, meeeeeehn they are just too circumspect with their work. Am glad you ran a good race of life ma. God bless you for this write up maam

  21. Bamisebi Toluwalope August 30, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    Waoh….. What an interesting writeup. Thank God 4 ur good health and your sound mind ma. Thank God for quick recovery and for your dear friends that took care of you. Thank God for his faithfulness, malaria since 1988 and just resurfacing now, am so sure God was only trying to remind you of something or God was trying to teach you something new and important. And have been able to learn also from this write up, I will keep running my race and never give up because God hasn’t given up on me. I won’t get tired and I will keep aiming high and dreaming big…. Much Love ma (Mrs Bisi Fayemi)

  22. tbams August 30, 2016 at 2:57 pm

    In every situation we find ourselves we should always know that it is not our parking place but our passing phase…
    Thank God for your health ma. Malaria is indeed a deadly disease that has taken the lives of many people especially children because it is not looked into or because of ignorance.
    I can relate with your malaria story and the dreams you had cos I can remember times when I have malaria also, the kind of dreams i dream. But Thank God for his faithfulness. We keep dreaming nd running to achieve the best in life ijn. God bless you ma. Mrs Bisi Fayemi and he will continually keep you string ijn.


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