Wednesday, March 5, 2008

A tale of a Hero

Hello Blogsville.
I have a secret to share.

I see your eyes light with interest. What news could he be about to release? In our world, where members darkest fears are online perusals for others, secrets fall into that blockbusting category of Blogsville events. I must warn you though. I might not shatter the records with my disclosure. Don’t get me wrong. I do have a secret to tell. I’m just not sure if you’ll believe me.

You see, my friend is a super hero.

Special powers. Special abilities. Double identity.
I know what being a super Hero entails…
He’s got it all.

He suffers from Sickle cell anemia. That most annoying of afflictions due to the finality of its diagnosis. Once you’ve got it you’re stuck with it. It’s like walking to class naked in your final year in University with the words “Micheal Jackson is the sexiest guy I know!” hanging around your neck. You never live it down. You just have to live with it.
Same thing with sickle cell. There’s no escaping it.
My friend T? He must not have read the book on living with sickle cell. He doesn’t just live with it. He gives it life.

I was with him last week. That’s what friends do. We visit each other. We spent the whole day clowning around. Laughing at our past silliness, planning new ones. Our days where long roller coaster ride of infinite possibilities on the fun track, anything could happen. If it was happening elsewhere we sought it out. If it wasn’t happening we made it. The days where good most of the time. Other times they where fantastic.
And the nights..
Well for me. It was.
Not for T though.

You see T doesn’t just have Sickle cell Anemia. He also suffers from a leg ulcer that is common with sickle cell patient. Whilst Sickle cell patient are prone to occasional attacks of pain ( they call em crisis) leg ulcers are annoying side attraction. Too make it worse.They’re always there. They never leave and they always have to remind you of their prescence.

It’s an annoying sore on his leg that refuses to go. It almost has a life of its own. Sometimes the sore closes to just a slight scratch on the skin, teasing us with the possibilities of its departure. Just when we are convinced that this time, just maybe this time, it’s going to final leave, the sore laughs at us and opens up into a wound that looks like the result of a gunshot.
Gunshot wound or screen crack. The sore is always there. And it never stops hurting.

I’m not talking the slight dull ache that hitting your head against the wall can give you. I’m talking the pain that a surgery patient would experience if they suddenly ran out of anesthesia mid operation and then kicked him out. The sore that T is afflicted is one of respectful proportions. When I say pain. I mean real pain. Like the Piers tale of the little mermaid , (not Disney’s romantic version, the real one) every time he takes a step he is hit by nerves reminding him that they are here to make his life hell. It is like he is literally working on broken shards of glass. The leg hurts like hell. The pain is so bad that most of the time his body is covered with sweat as he struggles to come to grips with it.
Sickle cell. Leg ulcer. Unending pain.
Sometimes you wonder why the gods don’t just pay more attention on Somalia.

I woke up one night last week to meet him sitting in a chair.

The room was dark and his was a shadowy hunched silhouette against the background.

He couldn’t even talk when I asked him if the leg was hurting. It was almost a silly question. The leg always was hurt. It just sometimes hurt more than other periods. This time it was having a blast cranking out the pain. He just nodded his head weakly. He was hurting and couldn’t do anything about it. I was his friend and there was nothing else I could do.

True there where drugs he could take. But the pain killers he used where pretty strong stuff. They where way up there with cocaine in the addiction monsters. It was really easy to get addicted to the drugs because of its soothing effect. My friend T had heard the stories of people suffering from addiction to the drugs he was using. He was worried. He was not going to add junky to his glowing resume of woe.

A brave decision perhaps.
Certainly, a painful one.

He might have been noble but I wasn’t.

Despite his murmurs on the contrary, I tore his room apart looking for the vial that would bring him relief. I eventually found it. He didn’t wince as I gave him the injection. He just lay there groaning softly.
Eventually the drugs kicked in and a dreamy look came to his eyes. He made his way to the bed to pass out. I watched him as he slept a drugged sleep and I wondered. Last year I had two tummy aches. Both instances had left me rolling on the floor gasping for help whilst I swore out my oaths to the cooks responsible for my gastronomical dysfunction.
I could not handle pain for one night and yet here was a person, my friend, who could, and who had, for the last 5 years.

It’s a wonder how much I have taken for granted in my life.
Things I do for fun he is unable too.

He is, for instance, unable to drink coke. Not because sipping the sugary elixir will kill him but because he has been told that too much sugar in his blood does not help the wound. He cannot drink alcohol because 2 years ago his liver complained after a night of mindless boozing (vodka anyone?)whilst we celebrated our continued existence.
An even simple thing like dating is not so simple where he is concerned.
Cursed with the tinge of an SS blood group he is wary dating anyone with an AS tag. Not because he is afraid he is contagious but because he fears that like, Damocles sword swinging over his head ,the knowledge that the relationship cannot go anywhere will ruin whatever little pleasure he might have derived..That no matter how deeply he is in love with her they cannot be eventually wed. He plans on having children this friend of mine and he plans on having good ones. It is sad watching him meet a girl he likes only to watch him slink away when he finds that she does not possess that elusive AA blood type. There is no point to it he mutters when I insist that he just continues for the fun of it.
He doesn’t see my point.

Why persist in the endeavor when someone might get hurt?
In a world clouded by his survival of pain. He has made it his mission not to be responsible for others.

Last year I walked into his room and saw him surfing the web.

wasn’t checking out the latest Shakira pictures or trying to track down J-lo’s number. No. What my dear friend was doing was checking for a prosthetic limb. He was so frustrated with his own leg. He was prepared to cut it off. That was how bad the pain was making him think.

blogs as well as I do. Given my infrequent forays here I’d say he browses more often. It is an outlet for him to complain and yell. At least it started out that way. But lately he has become more cheerful about the Blogsville environment speaking more about his life and les about his pain.
That is my friend.
Half full never half empty.
Sometimes we seat and ponder about the people behind the names on Blogsville.
We are united in our perception of you all.
You’re all a delightful crazy bunch.

There is hope to be sure.
There just isn’t any in this country.
He plans on leaving at the end of this year. The only reason that he hasn’t is because of his studies. He requires at least a year of proper rest and treatment for the successful healing of the sore. We want it gone and we want it gone for good. He need a year. The Nigerian school calendar is not inclined to give it to him.
When two elephants fight. The ground suffers.

And so we wait for the end of the year when he shall be done with his exams. We joke about his last day in school. I tell him I shall personally drive him to the airport and see him into the plane.
I shall stand on the runway and watch his chariot streak across the sky.
Thereafter for a year I shall loose a dear friend..
I console myself with the theory that with him away the girls will get to notice me more.
Sometimes it works.

As I sat there watching him sleep, noticing with sadness that even his sleeping position had been forced to change since his leg developed a sore 5 years ago( he holds his leg protectively in the fetal postion), I marveled at the strength in my friend.

He goes through life everyday with pain mocking him in the background. But like Paul in the bible he doesn’t let a simple thing like unending pain stop him from his duties.

He is the best friend a guy could have. Fun, charming and very easy to push around. Someday he is going to make a lady extremely happy but till then he is ours. He never lets his affliction get in the way of his relationship with people. He doesn’t let it affect his ambition to become so rich he doesn’t have to work for the rest of his life. He doesn’t let it affect him. He is who he is. Without the pain. And so much more because of it.

It has been a week since then and we still go about our affairs.
But I watched him differently. There is no way I can know what it takes to live a life like he does. But I am convinced it is not easy. Living with pain and not showing it. Being brave in the face of you demons. Never allowing the pain to get you down.
It is the stuff of legendary stories.
I have found myself another hero.
My friend T.

I wish there was more I could do for him. I wish in a lot of ways I could make the pain go away, but I can’t. All I can be is a good friend and be there for him. And maybe ,one day, I’ll write a story about it. About my life with the great man T. And what is what like living with a person who re-taught me what bravery, fear honor and nobility was all about.
Till then I do the best I can. Waking every day with the knowledge that I hold dear.
My best friend is a super hero.

Hello Blogsville.
I have a secret to share.


fantasy queen said...

i'm first...its going to be a good day.
wanted to celebrate this victory befor going back to continue the reading, cos i'm already getting quite sad.

Simi Speaks said...

wow. what a man ur friend is. this piece truly touched me!

babeandahalf said...

Strange... that there aren't any more comments on this post.

But maybe not so strange, cos I really don't know what to say.