My Battle with Multiple Slipped Discs

By Vip Ogola

IMG_9650.JPGPetite, Sicily Wangari Mugo walks comfortably into her living room. It is difficult to imagine her ever being unwell. She is straddling the last of her three children, 15 month old Shammah Waiguru on her hip. She hugs us and then sits. Her house manager Sarah comes in for Waiguru and we get right into the interview. “When Sharon, my second child was born through C-Section, my husband had to travel internationally after two weeks. My house manager at that time left suddenly. I am a perfectionist, so I got up, and kept my house in perfect order. I didn’t feel it then, but this marked the beginning of my journey.”

Her journey with multiple slipped discs began in July 2012 when she was first diagnosed of the condition. “I had back pains that would come and go. I also felt tired all the time and numb sometimes. But I thought it had something to do with women’s issues, having had surgery thrice, once to extract fibroids, and twice to have my daughters. I did not take it seriously, even when they referred me to Dr. Gakuo. I was busy. And a woman.” Wangari has been a Financial Advisor with PanAfrican Life for ten years. She is passionate about her job which involves visiting clients and giving insurance advice “I love my job and my supportive employer. I would target ten meetings a day, and make it through.”

Some conditions cannot simply be ignored away.  One October morning Wangari got up to get ready for two crucial meetings. “I struggled out of bed trying to ignore the pain. I went to the bathroom but when I bent over to pick up the soap, it was too painful to try. I screamed without meaning to, and my husband heard but I made as if I was okay. This morning’s meetings were too important to me. I struggled through dressing up and even drove to pick up my colleague near City Carbannas for the meeting on Mombasa road. But I could not pretend anymore, I was weak and in pain and I left, allowing my colleague to go on with the meeting. I knew I just had to go to hospital, via my meeting with Muthoni.” Muthoni, her friend, had been recently widowed, and needed advice on how to follow up with her husband’s insurance issues.

“I could not let Muthoni down. She needed people around her, and I did not want her to think I was using illness as an excuse for not being there for her.” She noticed her legs numbing as she drove. Her lower back was aflame. She parked at a Petrol Station near Bellevue and sat waiting for this wave of discomfort to subside. She was unable to reach her husband who was at a work meeting. None of her friends was close enough to reach her. Remembering Muthoni, she prayed she would not disappoint her and set out again. At the City Council parking opposite Barclays Plaza her distress drew the attention of an elderly man. He helped her out of the car, and out of the parking area. “I was glad I had not worn my usual high heels.” She convinced him that she was strong enough to cross the road, and took the lift to the second floor of her office building. She made it, courageously, through her long lunch hour meeting with Muthoni. Two male colleagues walked in on her anguish and rushed her to Menelik Hospital on Ngong Road. She was admitted on arrival.  “By this time my vision was blurred and I slipped into unconsciousness at some point. I appreciated that the hospital prioritized my health not payment.”

“My colleague contacted my husband and waited until he arrived. I was admitted for 14 days that time. I underwent the second of three MRIs in this journey, and several other tests. They stretched me out on the bed, with things that looked like stones, which pulled my legs. I was told that the idea was to stretch out my vertebrae so that the flesh that was lodged between my discs would be released. It was extremely uncomfortable. I did not leave my bed, even to go to the bathroom for seven days” Her trauma increased on her second day when an elderly woman was wheeled in from surgery, for a spinal condition similar to hers. The woman regaled her with tales of her journey, the necessity for surgery and the amount of medication she was on. Wangari laughs. “We put ourselves through more that we are going through when we allow our minds to dwell on the worst case scenario. I was terrified. I decided the following morning to make positive declarations over my life. I prayed. I reminded God, like King Hezekiah in the Bible, of my life, how I had served Him and helped those who needed my help. And I began to feel better. It got so that when I was released from the stretching thing on my bed, I would now serve her, doing things like serving her medication.”

Upon discharge, she still had to go for follow up for about a week, and as her outpatient insurance was exhausted, to pay cash. About Kenya Shillings two thousand per session. This involved massage, continuous traction and buying medication. She was soon able to go back to work, sometimes. Her husband would send a driver to get her there and bring her home, but there were days she had to take the matatu. The medications were very strong and many times she passed her destination and had to be dropped off on her way back. She can no longer wear high heeled shoes for more than a few minutes, go to work and hold down the fort as she used to. Her employer and her clients have been supportive. She cannot hold or play with her really young children as she is discouraged from carrying anything heavier than two kilos. “I often had relapses when I carried my children. They now understand, one is in Standard 2 and the other in Pre-unit. It’s just this one…” she says smiling at the baby on her lap. “But God has given me grace.” She loves hosting, but now allows guests to serve themselves.

Her pregnancy with Shammah was nothing short of a miracle. She had to go off her strong medication for the entire duration and although the pain was severe, it never got her admitted. In fact, she only succumbed after his six month “and it wasn’t as serious as the other ones. I fell in the bath tub and relapsed. My house manager stayed with him while I was admitted and had the task of introducing him to solids. This is when I discovered Dr. Ruto of Kenyatta National Hospital Doctors Plaza. He is a gifted Physiotherapist and affordable too. I wish I had known him from the beginning.” She has also received dedicated support from her neighbour Dr. Stella Bosire of Avenue Hospital, Embakasi as well as her Gynacoelogist Dr. Yamal of Medi Plaza in Parklands.

“I am so grateful to God, to my parents, my in-laws, and church members at House of Grace Embakasi led by Pastors Dodzweit and Mary Achera for their support through this journey. I have made it this far because of their love and support. My husband Mugo Kariuki, has been priceless. He has prayed for me, declared God’s Word into my life, and taken on the roles, regarding the children so I could recover.”

vipslit@yahoo.ca    Dr. Stella Bosire on Herniated disk with Radiculopathy

Photography by: Nash of NaMeD Afrika Studios

First published in the Sunday Standard’s Sunday Magazine on Sunday, August 28, 2016

http://sde.co.ke/article/2000214258/i-shouldn-t-be-alive-my-battle-with-multiple-slipped-discs

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Elevated mis-Adjudications

“Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.” Romans 14:4NKJV

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I strolled into the balcony earlier this morning, with a stool in one hand so I could breath…perhaps more accurately, so I could get some air into my head. And it worked. I stood on the stool and idly looked around the hood from an even more heightened vantage point.

I noticed that my neighbor had some men over to rebuild his wall. He had brought it down about three weeks ago to allow for the digging of a bore-hole in front of his gate. The three men were doing awesome work, from my vantage. They were also raised considerably from the ground and were plastering and measuring and really getting Tassia’s black cotton dust all over them. I noticed another man, cleaning up the road. Picking up papers and lighting small fires to burn them. He is not an employee but a good samaritan. My son Leroy opened the gate, noticed him, and quietly but resolutely went to join him in this task.That’s when the air began swirling round my head…for you see, as his mother, I should know a thing or two about him, right?

Anyway, I immediately installed myself as his supervisor. After all, I was standing on a stool on an elevated balcony, and am his mother right? I suddenly noticed seven small pieces of white paper that, as far as I was concerned, would the determine the success of his mission. He missed them every time, but what I failed to focus on, was that, from his vantage point, he was able to see and deal with a lot of rubbish. Including, ahem, my attempts at supervising him. After a while I kept quiet but continued to anxiously watch for him, willing him with all of my heart and blood pressure to notice the seven pieces of white paper. Suddenly this all seemed very familiar to me…I was Leroy. I heard God rebuke me saying, “let the lad be. You did not ask him to do this work, I did. I did not send you out to supervise, and you definitely have not been qualified by Me to adjudicate or  determine his success. Only I can do that.”

Okay, I figured out too, that since I had noticed the seven pieces of white paper that Leroy kept missing, it was probably my job to go down there and pick them up. So let’s just say, there was an air-leak in my head as Wisdom set in and settled quietly. The little fires have died down as I thought through this, and wrote it down, and the jarring existent of the seven pieces of white paper, can not change the fact that Leroy did something lovingly, as best as he knew how to. The area around our house and across the road looks a lot better than it did before he stepped in. I am proud of him.

I learned that I can not disqualify who I cannot qualify. I can only evaluate a project based on its set objectives and including the presenting challenges – when these have been presented to me and I have been blessed with the soundness of mind and wisdom to do so. I also learnt that sometimes we erroneously feel that just because we have done something before, or know the person who is doing it relatively well in our opinion (which may not actually be true) we automatically qualify to vet those who are bent over to the task. Just because I define success one way, does not always make it true, not even most of the time. Finally, that just because someone is perched at a higher point, it does not give them the whole true picture of what is on the ground. A more realistic assessment is made by those actually doing the work – without really ruling out the truth of that higher view.

As I go out to pick out the seven pieces of white paper, I continue to learn from this scene. I hope this helps someone else, even if its just one person.

This morning’s lesson is both humbling and comforting. When we get too much air in our heads, we get light-headed, and are in no position to judge weightier matters.

Shalom

vipslit@yahoo.ca

 

Kangaroo Mother Care: What is it

IMG_9841.JPGBy Dr Angela Muriuki, Head of Child Survival, Save the Children – Kenya

Definition and History: KMC is continuous, prolonged, skin to skin contact between a baby and a mother or any other adult for at least 18 hours a day for several weeks. It provides warmth, promotes breastfeeding, reduces infections and links with additional supportive care, if needed. It is a powerful easy to use method to promote the health and well-being of infants born pre-term as well as full term. There are two types s KMC- contious which is skin to skin contact for at least 18 hours and intermittent where contact is brief and at least for 3 hours.

KMC begun in Bogoa, Colombia in 1979 by Dr. Edgar Rey and Hector Martinez in response to a shortage of incubators and severe hospital infections.

Who qualifies for KMC? The current Moh recommendation for KMC in Kenya is for stable babies (not on oxygen, not receiving intravenous medicines) as long as they meet the criteria: baby less than 37 weeks or completed gestation and the mother willing to provided KMC for at least 18 hours, mentally sound, not ill etc. It is hard to objectively say who is most likely to use it i.e. which mother is likely to accept KMC, early involvement of their partners and family in the process and promotion of support systems at home but also using mothers who have successfully practiced KMC.

Challenges that face premature babies and which of these can be resolved by KMC: In the simplest forms, small babies are at risk of death due to hypothermia (they are not able to regulate their body temperature very well), hypoglycaemia (also not able to regulate their blood sugar very well as their systems are not fully developed),and respiratory diseases (they get severe problems with their respiratory system in part due to the fact that their lungs are not fully developed and that they get infections very easily) as well as problems with their eyes, brain and gastrointestinal systems all because of being born too soon.

Some of the benefits of KMC for the baby include thermoregulation (the constant contact20150303_183400 between mother and baby keeps the baby warm), it promotes exclusive breastfeeding (hence addressing the issue of hypoglycaemia), babies gain weight faster (due to better thermoregulation, feeding and bonding which reduces stress for the newborn) and therefore it shortens the hospital stay (reducing the risk of exposure to infections). For the mother, it gives her confidence in caring for her newborn, it improves bonding between mother and baby and empowers the mother to be the primary caregiver. It also reduces stress for the mother since she is with her baby constantly as opposed to conventional care in the newborn unit where the mother only comes to feed her baby every 3 hours (and in between feeding times is constantly worried about whether her baby is still alive). For the hospital – engaging mothers in the care of their babies means that the nursing staff available can focus on the very sick babies and work with the mothers to care for the stable babies, incubators are in short supply and often shared so KMC ensures that incubators are left for the sick babies who really need them and the shorter hospital stay for babies is also advantageous
Some of the benefits of male involvement: There are several reasons why men should be involved (especially when mother is discharged to practice KMC at home)

–        Financial support for the care of the baby especially if the mother has to be away from work (her daily source of income) to care for the baby

–        Emotional and psychosocial support for the mother

–        Fathers themselves can practice KMC giving the mother some time to rest or carry out other household activities

–        They can help around the household so that she focuses on care for the baby (or get some help for the household)

–        Financial resources so she can attend the monthly follow up visits at the health facility

Women experience the lack of male involvement differently depending on their support networks.

When is the best time and for how long? KMC is initiated immediately (and as long as mother and baby meet the criteria described above). KMC is practiced for at least 18 hours a day. When a baby gets to 2000gm, they can be discharged to go home and continue KMC until the baby is 2500gms (with frequent visits to the facility to make sure the baby is ok and gaining weight).

Can it be practiced instead of/along with incubator care and when?KMC is not a replacement for incubator care or an intervention for poor countries/communities. It is the current recommended care for small babies (in the west, even unstable babies are put on intermittent KMC – can send pics from internet though copyright could be an issue). KMC is practiced alongside incubator care because as I mentioned, there are babies who still need incubator care and don’t qualify yet for continuous KMC according to the Kenya guidelines  – very sick, on oxygen, on IV medicine etc. even these sick babies can be put on intermittent KMC and returned to the incubator.

Is KC beneficial for babies born term? No, term babies don’t tolerate KMC at all.

KMC should be differentiated from skin to skin care for all babies – this is where any baby born should be put skin to skin with its mother to keep it warm until it can be wrapped warmly. This is standard practice for all babies at delivery. KMC on the other hand is for small babies (preterm, low birth weight), and is continuous (at least 18 hours)

Which institutions within and outside Nairobi are equipped to and encourage KC?

I can only speak for the ones we support. We have supported county MoHs to set up KMC in Bungoma and Busia counties and provided technical support to other organisations to set up KMC services. From August 2016, we will be supporting Nairobi County to do the same and Wajir County later in the year.

We also extend an offer to any organisation/county which requires technical support to set up KMC services. If they get in touch with us, we are happy to provide this support (technical support since financial resources are limited).

End

Photography by: Nash of NaMeD Afrika Studios and Family File

https://viphealthyleadership.wordpress.com/2016/08/23/kangaroo-mother-care-saved-baby-winnie/

Broken Heel Days

Sometimes, the devil throws stuff at you, but God allows you to walk on through to a lovely day. It may be a puncture, a broken heart, a betrayal or two by a friend, financial challenges, an illness, ministry, or work challenges, an eviction, a death – varying degrees of pain and discomfort; it does not have to be fixed the way you desire it to be. But you run to Him, cling on Him, realizing your need of Him…keep your toes and heels level as best as you can, your hand in His and keep walking. Its not yet over, until God says it is.

A broken heel, should never prevent you from getting home…and when you do, in spite of it, you realize that those broken heel days, are actually miracles in the making. I did.IMG_20160811_122029

`Thus says The LORD to Cyrus His anointed, Whom I have taken by the right hand, To subdue nations before him And to loose the loins of kings; To open doors before him so that gates will not be shut: “I will go before you and make the rough places smooth; I will shatter the doors of bronze and cut through their iron bars. “I will give you the treasures of darkness And hidden wealth of secret places, So that you may know that it is I, The LORD, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name.`
Isaiah 45:1-3

LESSONS FROM THE LABOR WARD

I spent last night and early this morning at a labor ward with a close friend whose husband was away on a trip. The labor ward has a lot of lessons for those who wait in prayer in The LORD.

I learnt that because you get in first, does not mean that you get out first or at all, or even get blessed first. Sometimes, one looses their expectation at this crucial time.

I learnt that, in the labor ward, modesty of dress and manner is really not priority. The less you have on, the easier it is to remove, the better you will be attended to. Ignore those that mock you in your birthing hour…they are the ones who are inappropriate.

I learnt that when you pray for release, and the pain seems to increase, and your groans seem to choke up your prayers, God is still in charge, and at His exact timing, He answers your prayer according to His Will.

I learnt that sometimes the more human assistance you require and receive at this crucial place of birthing, the longer it takes you to heal from the trauma of it all.

I learnt that when you hold the answer to your prayers in your arms, it is often very difficult to remember what you just went through, and if you focus on the past, it keeps you from enjoying and worshiping God for the breakthrough you have received.

I learnt that something you go through may be potentially fatal, but does no harm to you or your blessing – but one may be harmed in seeming safety.

I learnt that you may be in the same situation with another in the ward, even groan at the very same time, but that even when someone is there to hold you, the pain still is very personal…and cannot be numbed simply by being in like company.

I learnt, that God raises who He Wills to intercede for your birthing experience, that others may want to be there for you, but are kept out because He is The Writer of your story.

I learnt that the intercessor will notice others that suffer like you, but because they are called to stand with you, they can not stand with the others there too. Not in the way they are with you anyway.

I learnt that you may know its time, the intercessor may know its time, but it is God who moves the mountains to work in agreement with His timing for you. You cannot make it happen, because though there for you, there are not really there for you…but for themselves.

I learnt that in labor ward, it helps to focus on the task of birthing. Just that.

I am grateful that God raised me, and strengthened me and moved me to be in a place of His revelation, then rested me afterwards.

To Climb a Tree

WHAT MADE A RICH AND POWERFUL MAN CLIMB A TREE:
I got thinking today, seeing in my mind the rich and powerful people I know, have heard of or seen from a distance, and imagined them, one by one, hoisting themselves up a tree for a better few of…okay, think of the ones you know, unless they are actors or environmentalists, what would they be doing up there? It would be more plausible for them to shove their way to the front, or get their security to do it for them so that they would get a better view. And then I thought of a group of rich and/or powerful men all trying to get a glimpse of the same thing, live. That would be even worse…a cloud of security would probably make it impossible for their bosses to get a glimpse.
Short Zacchaeus was in such a situation. He was rich, he was powerful, but the pharisees and the disciples seemed more fitted for a close up with Jesus Christ. This was not his crowd, and it was likely that they would not hesitate to remind him of the fact. Among this sort, his position was despicable…because you see, they thought they knew him well. The source of his wealth was, fishy, so they felt it was their duty to protect God and heaven from the likes of him. Even without knowing they were doing it. But this did not numb his keen hunger, to see Christ, and say to Him what only He could hear, understand, appreciate and mitigate.
So he did something that could mostly be associated with a child, or someone who life had drained of anything they could loose. He was both. And because the Kingdom of Heaven belonged to such as he, The LORD of Heaven, ‘heard’ his faith, his hunger, and saw him shed all, that he might have a glimpse of Him. And Jesus, spoke above the cloud that hindered Him from getting to Him, and then drew Him forth that they might fellowship together.
BELOVED, SO ‘THEY’ ARE IN THE WAY, BLOCKING YOU FROM SEEING THE LOVE OF YOUR LIFE – THE LOVE OF ALL AGES. DO SOMETHING THEIR POMP AND POWER WOULD KEEP THEM FROM DOING, SOMETHING POWERFULLY CHILDLIKE, ENOUGH TO GIVE YOU A VIEW OF HIM. ‘THEY’ MAY DESPISE YOUR FAITH IN ACTION, BUT THAT HAS NEVER MATTERED, WHAT MATTERS IS THAT YOU DRAW THE APPROVAL OF THE ONE WHO MADE THEM AND YOU. [thoughts on Luke 19:1-10]
“let the LITTLE children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, ANYONE who WILL NOT receive The Kingdom of God like a LITTLE CHILD will NEVER enter it.” Luke 18:15-17
vipslit@yahoo.ca

My Miracles

photo 10The last two days have been some of the lowest I have gone through in my life as a Mom. I had hoped to be able to send my children to college, but it did not work out that way. God remains Good, and on top of this and the other circumstances in my life. My daughter has been really down over this, and more discouraged than I have even known her to be – please pray for her, when she comes to your mind. Leroy on the other hand, has been down with Malaria and Typhoid and up as Mami’s helper in spite of this. He lost his place in college last year due to arrears. God remains Good, and on top of this and other circumstances in our lives. I don’t really know if am over this, I am not sure since there is an ache in my throat, in my belly and somewhere in my chest as I move around. Feeling unable to provide for your child – even the basics, is something I would not wish for someone who has hurt me badly. But that’s not what this post is about. Its a happy heartache post.

So spent yesterday standing on my knees, crying out to God in every way I knew how to…to spare my children from this one…but He allowed for it to happen and having walked with God for a long time, I know He comes in a cloud sometimes -in the best of times. I asked God for a miracle and He blessed me with one. Last night, I went into my daughter’s room to pray with her, because she is at a point where she is not able to pray anymore. She had spent the day with my brother and my dear sister in love Irene, but once home, the gloom of her circumstances just basically descended on her. So, I listen, I talked, I prayed, and then I listened and put of her lights and went to the living room to pray with my Guys. Leroy went first, and I steeled my heart waiting for a complaint…IMG_3533

“Our Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for this day. Thank You providing for us food to eat, a place to stay and water. We are grateful. Please, I want to pray for the teachers. Please let them be paid their money so that they can go back to school and teach the other children. Please also look after the doctors and nurses so that they can go back to work in the hospitals so that people do not have to die anymore. I bless this prayer in Jesus Name, Amen.

I am blessed to be a mother, I am blessed to be their mother, for better of for worse. So, the day that began with a drizzle of tears, ended with a waterfall. A child had led me, a child I had borne, had taught me that there were big issues also, outside our house. I learnt, Humbled. Keep us in your prayers…Keep us still in your prayers. We will walk God’s itinerary, and grow how He would have us grow, Because He knows the way, He is The Way, and that Way is Good. Shalom.

vipslit@yahoo.ca

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