General

Prickle Boy

Medarus had sickle cell. We all knew that but we took consolation and hope in the fact or myth that he could have a normal life if he beats age 18. Religiously, we obeyed the doctor’s instructions, prayed and hoped he beat this.

Occasionally, he experienced real pain, in his bones that took us in and out of the hospital. Frankly, some of these visits were scary. I just saw the doctors and nurses whispering to each other, I didn’t care, I just wanted my friend healthy and out of the hospital bed. That smell from the hospital gave me nausea myself, unless I was sick. Depending on the location, it was either Korle Bu, Tema General Hospital, Margret Marquart in Kpando or St Joseph, Koforidua.

We were excited Medarus made it to tertiary school, by this time, a lot of the symptoms had stopped and we were thankful to God. We had beaten the condition and we moved on.

One wet evening, in 2014, he complained of a slight headache after evening mass. It’s due to tiredness, we thought, he took some paracetamol and went about his business. An hour later, the pains become agonising, it was not just his head again, his thigh, too. We rushed him to the Tema General Hospital. The doctor checked him, “he is fine, it’s just one of those episodes when you have this condition”. It was around 9:45 PM. We took assurance in those words and just waited for him to be released. His mother, who we affectionately called Aunty Bene was calm throughout standing directly opposite the drip administered to her son and occasionally attending to him.

He left. Medarus died. He kind of came through and out, said thank you to his mother and checked out. just like that. There was total confusion, his mother froze, the doctors looked clueless, the nurses asked how?

He was 23 years and was about two months away from graduation. He was the only child of his mother, I wondered how she would cope.

Lessons.

Live. Be happy.

Medarus was a happy round fella. He embodied the words happy and pain at the same time.

His pain was that bad, chronic and total; all his strength could allow him when he was under attack (so to say) was to move his beautiful rosary in between his fingers. Whenever he mastered any energy, he recited and repeated excerpts from “Hail Mary”, like “full of Grace” or he simply whispered Jesus. Sometimes a good Catholic hymn was enough to soothe his pain. Something like “My God loves me. His love will never end. He rests within my heart. For my God loves me” he will sing everything.

But this guy was a happy child. He didn’t struggle to live it, nothing you humanly designed to frustrate him worked. He was sweet and brute in his relationships, he never missed any Chelsea or Barcelona games and Tigo free day and night was his groove. It was useless beefing him.

Medarus had dreams and he lived every day paying the prices for them, never agitated about his little condition. He lived. When he died, he died.

So be happy. Live.

Be selfish. Be selfish for and about your health. It is a virtue if you want to live long. Medarus was always taking a pill or two. Folic acid every day. On some days, he forgot, and he would quickly make amends when he remembered. He played football with other boys, ate fruits. He was friends to a lot of doctors and health facilities, he took a special diet (skipped that a few times for fun), wore jackets to bed every night and more.

My friend was very careful with his health because he understood his condition. While these health precautions may not have given him life, they helped keep him alive, even if for a short time.

Do what you ought to and can do to be healthy; it will definitely keep you healthy and alive today.

Depression. I am not very sure, but I think Medarus dealt with some depression. His first girlfriend was Korean. That relationship didn’t last. Companionship defined his subsequent relationships. He would mostly, sadly, note that girl left me for another guy and comfort himself.
Truthfully, it worried him sometimes, he complained bitterly about how colleague friends looked down on him. It was worse when he was rejected in places one thought he would be accepted. Boys can be unbelievable sometimes.

This would force him to keep to niceties and keep to himself, even at social gatherings.

Be honest. While my friend was honest about his health. He was not honest about his health and relationships. Looking back, I think he got too intimate with his girlfriends that he forgot to take precautions.

It is important to be with someone who understands (not just knows) about your condition. Whoever this person is must understand you cannot go all out like other men and women. Whoever this person is should double as your accountability partner, to make sure you take your medicines, go for a checkup, and force you to take folic acid and water, show empathy in decision making and extra empathy about sex.

Medarus’s mother is fine. Just that she cries whenever she sees me.

By: Ebenezer De-Gaulle

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