Some of the hospital marathon team
One thing I always look forward to during every Olympic Games tournament are the various marathon races. There is always something about the stamina, resilience and grit of the runners that resonates with me. Maybe that is because I just admire all these qualities in them in the face of challenges and hurdles. Or maybe it is because their participations in these marathons are always a reminder of my own marathons in life. While they run amidst cheers and well mapped out lanes and get crowned with gold and other precious stones, I get to run these races again and again in my battle for survival within the stark walls of the hospital dressing room with just one crown in view… staying alive with all my body faculties intact.
One such marathon race I have been running on and off for the better part of about 19 years of my 4 decades on this Earth involve my leg. I started running this particular race while I was in high school and since then, it has been recurrent and could have done any marathoner proud. I have blogged about the genesis of my hospital marathons with my leg here under the Warrior’s Stripes.
Just as many aspiring Olympians train hard as they anticipate their crowns of gold and its cousins, I have been having my training of sorts since October 2015 when just out of the blue, as a result of some pains, I found myself running this marathon once again.
The overall process of hospital trips, dealing with agonising pains and debridement, medical trials and error with drugs as it was difficult to determine which drug could respond well on my body, prominent holes in my pockets started again after years of rest.
Was it easy? Not at all.
The pains were unbearable. My life and plans for this year more or less ground to a standstill. I felt so overwhelmed and discouragement set in. I retreated into my inner shell, crying my eyes out almost every day from the pains. My daily routine became hospital-work-home-kingdom hall- home. Many felt I suddenly sprout wings and horns and I consider them beneath me. If only they knew. I will forever be grateful for those who noticed my silence and inquired and cheered me on. It has been a rough year.
My pay check would finish before I could say ‘How do you do?’ My money line was basically bank-hospital-pharmacy, making the holes in my shaky financial status deeper and deeper. Just as the Olympic Runner eats a lot of carbohydrates to be able to maintain their stamina throughout each race, I had to develop coping mechanisms to run this marathon successfully, which I have been running since October 2015.
If I had my way, I would have taken a sabbatical until my leg got well. But I needed the cash and the distraction from the pains my job could afford me. Of course, I could always go back to my family but since I could at least do most of my every day things, I decided my people deserve a little breather and so I worked and went to the hospital. I am fortunate my boss and colleagues were very understanding. I had permission to be late those days which I needed to go to the hospital for daily dressing change which of course meant I was late most of the time because hospital trips were daily for quiet some months before the dressing changes could be regulated and days were skipped. Focusing at work was challenging but good as it provided distractions from the pains I sorely needed. Wearing shoes was out of the question so my daily shoes became comfortable slippers.
These have been with me from the very beginning of this race.
Trying to stay positive despite the discouragement was not easy but it was important. Keeping my happy countenance and smile and trying hard to maintain my normal routine as much as it was humanly possible helped keep me sane. My love for writing was therapeutic and Facebook was an important tool for much needed distractions.
Challenging myself was a welcome relief as these challenges saw me pursue an online course at WorldPulse, got my story published, saw me organise a workshop to empower warriors and opened more opportunities for me. I did all these with a leg permanently band aided and frequent hospital trips. Another thing is that because I am allergic and sensitive to band aids, I had to scout the pharmacies and buy one that would be tolerant of my body or risk walking with a bandaged leg.
The only band aid my body could accept.
I faced hurdles, suffered misunderstandings amidst pains, reached the brink of discouragement, kept so many plans on hold, cried buckets full of tears and spent hundreds of thousands of CFA to be able to complete this fourth hospital marathon.
I saw how simple basic necessities suddenly became luxuries because my pockets had permanent holes in them. I learnt contentment and refined my coping mechanisms skills.
I was told things happened in threes but mine has happened 4 times. While the Olympians will be going home with all the glorious crowns of precious stones, I will be happy if I crossed the finish line of this marathon with a gold medal…seeing my leg whole again so I can rock those shoes I have been keeping under my box all these months.
At the end of the day, my hospital book was like someone’s taking notes on Wound Care 101
To all my fellow warriors who have never had the luxury of running this particular race, keep taking care. Treat every wound scratch with the utmost care. To parents of warriors, make sure to treat every scratch on your warrior child as a matter of national concern because, the agony associated with leg ulcers especially if they keep recurring is not something you could wish on your child. The risk of amputation is too high.
And just as every marathoner takes a holiday after the Olympics for a few days, I am looking forward to mending the holes in my pocket after this hospital marathon so I can take a trip to an exotic place for a few days. Preferably Kribi.
ARREY E. AGBOR-NDAKAW.