After four weeks in the hospital, I was finally allowed to go home. I had lost a lot of weight, my eyes and cheeks sunken. I gasped as I gazed at my reflection in the mirror while trying to apply a little makeup to my face. A good sign that I was doing much better. Three weeks ago I was too sick to be bothered about my looks. I would spend my energy getting better.
Diabetes type 2! I thought I heard the doctor say that was the kind of diabetes I had. I was asking what were the chances of cure from my doctor when he looked at me quizzically.
“Who told you it’s a type 2?” He asked.
“One of the doctors I guess,” I replied.
I doubt I could have made that up or it the disease affecting my memory too.
“type 1, not 2,” said the doctor correcting me.
“Type 1 or 2 what are my chances of getting better and living a healthy life,” I asked getting infuriated not even the counselling had given me the answers I want. They have all been politically correct in their responses.
“I wish I could tell you what you want to hear but if you keep to your medication, you will be okay.”
What he was saying was what I already knew, but I was hoping there would have been a change after all the weeks in the hospital.I was feeling more like my old self.
“Your drugs and medication would be given to you before you leave. Make sure you adhere strictly to them or else you might be back here again, and it may be more grievous.You need to do all you can to take care of yourself if you want to stay alive,” said Dr Kola gravely.
I wanted to stay alive but not with diabetes. There must be a cure. Science was too advanced for there not to be a cure. There should be a breakthrough in diabetes research. I have to believe I will overcome. The diseases will not waste my body.
I was glad to be out of the hospital. I wished I had not listened to my mother and had rented an apartment of my own. I would have to get a place in the coming weeks. I went home with mum and Uncle Segun. He would not listen to my feeble protest of he did not need to bother with me.
“Auntie, can I come in for dinner? I am tired of eating at my usual restaurant,” asked Uncle Segun.
I looked at him puzzled and forgot my resolve not to talk to him and only answer his questions in monosyllables. I was still upset with him.
However, it was easier said to forgive and let go than done. I thought I had let go, but I was far from it. It did look like I had a long way to go.
“What about Auntie Bimba?” I asked.
“She moved out after I told her you were my daughter. She was shocked I could have hidden such a secret from her all these years, not that I blame her,” he answered sadly.
I was not the only one dealing with Uncle’s Segun’s betrayal. I should be glad he is getting paid back in his coin. Rather I was sad that the two people who made my fantasy of marriage a reality now had cracks in their home, threatening to destroy the fabric of their union.
No secret is worth keeping. There is always a gestation period, and the truth out for everyone. Why does it take people so long to realise that secrets were only a matter of time?
I was speechless and since I did not know what to say. I did the best thing by keeping my mouth shut. Uncle Segun and Auntie Bimba had the wisdom to sort whatever problem they encountered. It was not for me to start giving counsel I did not have.
Uncle Segun came in for a meal of Amala and ewedu soup quickly whipped together by my mum. She asked if I wanted some and apologised when it dawned on her that it was carbohydrate and should not be part of my meal. My lifestyle has become a list of rules and diet that must be abided.
I walked into my old room. The last time I was in the room was the day of the introduction. That day looked like a million years away. I was no longer that girl whose life was a filled with promise and hope of happily ever after. It was a reality of pain, sickness and dream cut short if I allow it.
I dragged myself to the bed and laid down hugging the teddy bear Bode had given me. Drawing comfort that being here today is a sign that although my life would be different from now on, I would live every day to the fullest.
* * * * *
My phone vibrated, and I picked it up to read the message.
Andrew: Are you home?
Me: Yes I am.
Andrew: Up for a visit.
Andrew: Will check on you shortly. I am on my way home.
The constant in my life have been my friends and family. They have all found time amidst their busy schedule to check on me more regularly than I would have given credit.
The other day Auntie Bimba had come around to visit. I was excited to see her and hoped I would be able to convince her to go back to Uncle Segun.
I could understand her hurt although it was deeper than mine. I was the child. She was his wife. I wondered if their marriage could ever be the same again. Trust, although broken could be restored with time.
She did not say much to me, although I did ask when she was going back to Uncle Segun. I am yet to come to terms with calling him, father.
My parents were discussing the other day of a possibility of divorce, but I did not think she would. It might take her a longer time to come around forgiving my uncle, but Auntie Bimba did not look like one who would ask for a divorce.
The visits were brief but filled with messages of hope and encouragement except for some tactless people who had gory tales of individuals with diabetes. How do you come to encourage someone and fill them with stories of fear? I have learnt not to dwell on those terrible stories, and I can tell you it’s been hard wiping them out of my memory.
One of my aunts came the other day and was wailing of my inability to get pregnant due to the disease. I had not explored that angle, but my mother was quick to shut her up that the doctor had said I had a chance to live a normal life. Secretly, I wondered if my mum was not being protective and had just made that up, but since I was neither looking for romance nor marriage, they need not bother.
Bode visited me every day that I felt so sorry for the guy.
“You need a break. You have not been able to process what has happened to us and what you want to do. You should take time off work and make plans. Find a nice girl to marry,” I said almost choking on my words.
“Someone like you, cousin,” said Bode always using that endearment for me. Although I felt like it was more a reminder to him that I was his cousin and no longer the girl who held his heart than he was letting us believe.
“I could help you. We could go through a list of my friends,” I offered.
“I am not that desperate,” said Bode crisply.
I took the cue to drop the subject.
“Have you thought of seeing your birth mum?” asked Bode.
“I don’t think of her as my mother,” I answered tonelessly.
I still did not want to have anything to do with her. She and I were strangers, and that was what we would always be. Not asking for more, especially with the circumstance she abandoned me.
“Does she know me?” I asked, for a moment fantasising that she was pining for her abandoned daughter.
“No, I have not told my family that you are her daughter. She still thinks there is a girl somewhere with Uncle Segun.
“Good. Please don’t tell your family,” I begged, and I don’t know why I wanted him to hide the fact that he nearly married his first cousin.
The truth was I could not deal with anyone asking for forgiveness or expecting more from me. I was not hurt just indifferent. I was neither curious nor interested. I preferred not to rock my boat.
A soft knock rapped on my door.
Without checking, I knew who it was. It was the way he knocked so gentle that you could barely hear it.
“Come in,” I said softly but loud enough to be heard by the person on the other side of the door.
Andrew came in his presence filling the space as he took his seat on the chair by my bedside.
“How are you doing today, I hope you are not getting lazier by the day? So much work is waiting for you at the office,” he teased in his usual banter that I forget many times he is still my boss at work.
“I can’t wait to be back, up and running.”
My mother came in overhearing my response.
“You need to make sure Lana takes it slowly at work. She will forget all about herself and focus on the job. We cannot afford that right now,” said my mum to Andrew placing a glass cup of orange juice on the table beside his chair and handing me a tray of spicy fish pepper soup.
I adjusted my pillows sitting up properly to take the soup from her.
“Ma, do you think she still needs to be babied? She must be enjoying all the pampering so much that the thought of work must be nonexistence in her plans,” Andrew said to my mother with a grave look on his face yet eyes crinkling with laughter.
“You wish!” I retorted rolling my eyes.
“If it were possible, I would gladly exchange with you. You can have all the pepper soup in the world you want,” I teased back.
I loved Andrew’s visits. They were lively and filled with the usual banter Bode, and I used to share. He was able to look beyond my situation and still see me. It was easy to be my old self and not get weighed down with my present condition.
I would laugh and beg him to stop. I hated when his visits ended, and I had only my thoughts of fear to entertain me. Would I beat this disease? Would I be able to live a normal life?