CHIDINMA: A IS FOR ALICIA

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The girl that lived in the blue house adjacent to ours while we were growing up.  The little girl who in less than three months of meeting became a part of my life.  I was not much older than her 12 years, yet she always addressed me as aunty -then.  Was it my size, or the often feral expression I wore?  Those were the questions I always asked myself after I had bumped into her and had been accosted by her innocent greetings.

 

She was small for a 12 year old and walked on her toes, like she were floating.  There was something about Alicia that made you want to cuddle and tickle her whenever you saw her.  She was one of those serious- looking geeky children; only, she was really pretty, never wore braces and was annoyingly vocal.  She spoke really fluent English for her age, and her habit of unconsciously correcting people’s wrong pronunciations earned her a nickname- Prof.  The child was really smart.  ‘Twas something she even joked about in a very adult like manner.  She would say, “God has trapped me in this girl’s body for a purpose Chidi.” Since I did not have a lot of friends in the neighbourhood and also, because our dads shared the same ideals when it came to disciplining kids, we became fast friends.  Cartoon buddies and avid Archie fans, we had a lot in common.  I noticed she was the princess at home and it’s not because she was extraordinarily smart (like her brother will say). She was cushioned at every turn and had everyone at her beck and call.  It took me eight more months of friendship to discover the why.

 

Her bones.  The last time I went to see her, it was because I had gotten a call about her being hospitalised.  The doctors said there were holes in her hip bone – a medical condition known as avascular necrosis – and that she needed a hip replacement surgery. Alice had just turned eighteen the night before, and had passed out after cutting her cake at a very lavish party she’d planned for months.  After she was discharged, she was asked to use a wheelchair for weeks before she finally graduated to this single platinum crutch – an extension of the fashionable woman she turned out to be.  Occasions have risen, where she was forced to walk without her crutch, believe me when I say you wouldn’t notice she limps.  But being the unreasonable mortal who claims she dances instead of strutting like she used to, she prefers hiding behind the crutch.

 

The sickly, misshapen red blood cells coursing through her blood vessels. Those inflexible cells that find it difficult to navigate smaller blood vessels thereby resulting in complete blockage of said vessels.  An action that bars the entry of oxygen through those blocked vessel, resulting in incomprehensible pains and damage to her organs.  A situation better known as a ‘crisis’.

It took me two biology teachers and some hours on wikipedia to understand the severity of Alicia’s condition.  She suffers from an inherited condition known as sickle cell anaemia.  A condition that has made her live life in short bouts of complete health followed by a cycle of pain so vehement it often leaves her wishing for death.

I had the opportune moment to witness her sufferings during one of her crisis, and seriously, I pray never to see anyone I love go through that again.  Every joint on her small frame was literally on fire.  She kept asking me to ease the pains.  I wasn’t fast enough; my palms seemed to be inflicting more pains as I massaged her joints ferociously: the hands of an amateur masseuse.  As I couldn’t stand seeing her like this, I hoisted her onto my back and wobbled to the road, where I got a taxi to the hospital.  Hours after admission, I walked into the bleak looking room devoid of any furniture except the narrow hospital bed and an ugly looking cupboard pushed to one corner.  I caught the look of the nurse administering her injections – a look of pity so profound, it felt like the helpless and seemingly lifeless body sprawled on that narrow bed was never going to move again.  The haughty look I gave the nurse as she walked past me towards the door after her duties were done was one borne from my years of staying at hospitals with Alicia.  We hated pity.  Pity meant we had lost, that Hades was near.  Rather than give her looks of pity, stare at her as if unseeingly.  It was a better pill to swallow.

It hurts when people address her as a sickler – a term I consider derogatory and demeaning as offending as Nigger is to some black folks.  Yes, she may be physically weak but I assure you this lady has got the most active imagination ever.  Since fate connived to weaken her limbs and slow her body, she decided to sign up for a mental gym.  Believe me when I say her mind works out every other second – nothing else can be responsible for the kind of things she spews.

It’s 4.32a.m 18th of June, my birthday.  Alicia and I had been on the phone for three hours, talking about everything- plans, regrets, fantasies.  She’s the one person who knows every single thing about me.

After that call, I couldn’t sleep so I decided to write about my friend.  A heroine who continually battles with the Villains coursing through her systems.  A woman who believes death held no power over her any longer: because every crisis saw her knocking at his door without him ever responding.

A is for Alicia. The girl that lived in the blue house adjacent to ours while we were growing up.

 

Sunday 19th of June was World Sickle Day. A day set aside by the UN to celebrate the progress made on the disease and preach it’s prevention.  Did you know ignorance is never an excuse for failure at anything in life?  Loving a man/woman today is no excuse for giving birth to children with two copies of the sickle genes.

 

Save a life…  Know your genotype today!

 

Chidinma

Chidinma

I am the personification of Brutally blunt and Witty. I love my jokes funny, my music loud and my gists, colourful. I live my life by rules- my rules- and make no apologies for why I act the way I do. I define creativity as the act of evolving and evolving... Suffice to say that life and I are on first name terms- he is crazy about me too!

37 comments

  1. My best frnd is a carrier. I know exactly how u feel. He hates 2 b pitied nd I h8 it 2. God blessd him wiv so mch humor. He’s 1 ov d funniest ppl I kno. And it always helps us get thru his crisis. To him, it’s all a big joke. Nd I love him 4 dt. 4 nevr lettin ppl feel bad or sad arnd him. God bless u 4 sharing ds wiv us Chidinma. U r jst wonderful.

  2. This is one case there are no in-betweens. Information is so accessible these days yet some people are STILL so selfish because of so called love. What about the child that’s brought into this world only to endure pain and suffering and stigmatization? I feel no pity for the couple only the child that’s brought into this world. Spare a life and do the right thing don’t just KNOW your genotype also MAKE the right decision.

  3. You just killed it Chidimma …touching and Challenging..A medical error that could have been avoided. Alicia’s existence is not by Chance..She might even change her story & that of her likes just as Helen Keller did with the Braille .

  4. Gawwwwwwd…A captivating piece this is!.Yóu make mε wanna pick up paper and pen and start writing. Keep it up Chi. #OnPoint

  5. @Igho/deetyson…thank u guys for reading
    @Q…God be with them!
    @Mzswitz…God bless u too and bless ur bestie enormously.
    @MrSmith…Amen.
    @Louisa…we were avin a convo yesterday and som1 pointed out that I was wrng to call pple who decidd to marry knowing they both had d Sgene selfish…thank God u used d same word. Rationally they made a valid case but I still maintain my stand. Thanks for stopping here today
    @simOWN…*curtsy*
    @jay/hueyblack/Ugo…gracias mucho for reading

  6. I have the exact same case as Alicia right down to the avascular necrosis & hip replacement. Got mine @ the age of 25 after over 10yrs of hip pain. Thank you for this post may God bless you. You’ve got 1 thing on point. We HATE pity. I never tell anyone whn I’m in the hospital

  7. I have a brother who is a carrier too and when he is in pains he blames my parent for bringing him into the world. I don’t think its selfish for them to get married if they can’t stay apart I only think its selfish if they decide to go ahead and have children. There are so many motherless children out there looking for people to call father/mother why not just adopt one and know that’s the sacrifice you make for love

  8. Alicia reminds me of my baby sister! A gem to behold, her smile was always ready on her face whenever she wants the TV on. When she made it to JS1 to begin Secondary School, I made it a habit of calling her everyday when ‘they go for lunch break. When she got to SS1, she begged me not to do it again that her friends thought it was weird. We planned a party together for her birthday, it was going to be GRAND! i had gotten tickets for her and her pals to see movies, an hour later i was running to the hospital. Hours later, she told me she was sorry for all the wahala she put me through…she smiled, yes she smiled and … she couldn’t bear the pains anymore and she closed her eyes, leaving me and my parents dazed! Thanks for the write-up. God bless you…keep it coming.

  9. I lost an only sister 2 sickle cell…asides d fact dt I miss her,I prefer her dead to watchin her go tru d pains of crisis.Nice piece.Shud be published.

  10. I lost a cousin to sickle cell anaemia.I still see his shadow when I go to their house..when I sit at the dining where we used to eat noodles together
    Where we ate cakes at Christmas
    I refused to marry a sickler..one of the best people I have evr known and loved.I do not want to experience it twice.I’m so sorry,it sounds like they all die sometime..but that’s what it really is.btw I’m a doctor..I know how this works.

  11. lost a friend in 2010 to sickle, he was just 23, prime of his life, just graduated from Uni, so brillaint an dfull of life
    Terry you are surely missed

  12. I pray 4 dis generation n d minds in it. I grace dis mind sha… With such in our generation…”All is Well”… D sky is ur limit chado..lii bro.

  13. My heart goes out to ya’ll who have lost someone to sickle cell…be strong!!!
    Beautiful piece Chidinma, thanks for the reminder….we really shouldn’t be ignoramuses when it comes to issues like these, blaming it all on love. Same applies to HIV, please lets stop being careless.

  14. So you went ahead and published this.
    Mine is a story better than millions of others suffering in the dark, being stigmatised be the ignorance of man.
    I’m grateful for my life and I see this weakness as a gift and also as a curse.
    Dyx…*big hug* fancy running to you here.
    Thank you all for reading. We all need friends like Chidinma, people who put you and your well being before every other thing in their lives.
    People who are family bonded by love.
    Merci beaucoup Chi, tu es vraiment mon ange.
    Bisous

  15. @Dyx…
    @thetoolswoman…B is for beaucoup:Merci beaucoup for reading
    @Iknow…yes, that bit was mentioned during d convo too. Truth be told, I don’t have anything else to add. It’s enuff that peole’s stories r been told, so the decisions lies in our hands. Do right by D offsprings yet unborn is all am saying to all.

    @Frankscoz…Amen!!!!
    @Ozolua/Oma…I can only say she’s gone on to a better place. Bless u both for sharing this.
    @Iansamsie…I say same. I dont even need to outline d reasons or do I??
    @BBB…RIP Terry. BBB misses u sorely
    @Sheriphskills…like someone pointed out earlier, tis nt enuff 2Know ur genotype,make the right decision too. I av a feeling u will.
    @fepecy…Onyi thank u dearie
    @’Alice’…Mademoiselle, merci! Tu a meme laissez un reponse.L☺l ! Que faites-tu demain? Je veux t’appeller, donc si tu sort de la maison,pardon il faut que ton portable est sur toi. Tu me manques. Bisous

  16. Aww, I’m gonna cry. I ve a friend who’s AS n married to a man whose genotype is AS as well. They spend so much travelling abroad everytime she falls preg to check d baby’s genotype. They’ve aborted one baby cos the test detected she was SS, they r tryn for anoda. I ask, is it really worth d stress? I dont think dey shlda gotten married.

    http://www.fabuloucityjunkies.com

  17. I cried. I have a friend who’s going through the same thing. I just sent him this link and I know he’s gonna see this. He’s a fighter. I’ve never told him this to his face before cos he doesn’t ℓikε talking about it. At 23 he’s the strongest person I know. The things he goes through everyday,I doubt anyone his age would be able to. I love u hun and I pray God sees you through. I want you to be at my grandkids wedding wiv me.lol. This is beautiful chidinma. My heart goes out to “Alice”

  18. My heart goes out to alice and all others who hve to go thru dis pain one too many times.. I cnt begin to understand what they go thru..
    As I pointed out in the ‘convo’ and just as ‘I know’ pointed out.. They r not selfish for gettin married…. There r options.. The chances of havin a carrier jst as science says (which isn’t accurate most times) is 25%..1 in 4 chances… It’s a decision left for d couple n dey shldnt b judged or called selfish..

  19. Wowzaaaa….dats all I can say….like I haven’t read an articule dat is sooooooo…..I dnt know wat 2 say….wow chidinma….Truly God bless u for dis articule …God bless u…2 Alice and otherz who er struggling wiv dis issue…my heart really goes out 2 u guyz and I’ll continuously put u in prayerz…God bless us all…Amen

  20. what can i say, chi.God bless you for sharing this and bless Alice and others with courage and faith and the knowledge of personally knowing Christ,there is no greater hope than that.thanks again

  21. @fabcityjunky…apparently some people believe it’s worth it. For me? It’s a no no!
    @cici…’Alice’ sends her love and a hug to ur friend. Keep praying for him. Nothing is impossible wiv God. I know some examples of aged people living with sickle cell…
    @Ijay, I won’t drag our convo here. Enuff s been said by me. Seeing as I intend to b godmother to one of ur kids, I no want hear tory, because I no fit shout…#thatsall
    @nene/Uk…thanks for dropping a comment

  22. Hey Chidinma, tomorrow iWill post an article inspired by this your story.Thank you, and Alicia, for sharing this story withus – all of us

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