Happy New Year…I only wish my heart was happy as I write these words this morning. The title of this blog literally pulled me up from bed, begging to be written, so here goes.
We see them on the news every day, we see them on social media every time we look at our handheld devices. Headlines: “X-year-old boy hangs himself, X year old girl found hanging in her closet” “X-year-old teen dies from self-inflicted injuries”. The headlines are not the problem though, read a few lines down and you will see them, the unmistakable words “after years or months or even weeks of being bullied” BEING BULLIED? by whom you ask yourself, then it never fails, the words, by his or her peers follows every time, and I am sick of it!
I am sick of the fact that small children are now more pre-occupied with bullying each other than playing in the sandbox or with their X-Box. Even when they do play in said sandbox or on the X-Box, they are bullying each other. They are teasing each other, they are making fun of each other, and not in a nice way, in the worst possible ways, saying the worst possible things to themselves. I often speak of how another 12-year-old child once told my then 12-year-old son “when God made you, He left you too long in the oven and you got burned” referring to his skin color. How does a 12-year-old come up with those words? Sadly, the vocabulary is now even worse, they have now progressed to calling names like “bitch” and “slut” and phrases like “go kill yourself”, and “die now” as in the case of McKenzie Adams, a 9-year-old child from Alabama who hung herself in her closet last December after months of bullying by other 9-year-olds. 9-year-olds? What do they know? How did they come up with so much meanness and hatred in their hearts and mouths and fingers? Where will a 9-year-old child find such racist statements as those that were repeatedly uttered to this poor little girl? Where are their parents when all of this is happening? Who are these people?
As if that were not bad enough, just yesterday, the news broke about little Seven Bridges, a 10-year-old boy who not only had a medical condition that required him to wear a colostomy bag (and need multiple surgeries to live) about which he was repeatedly teased, he was allegedly called the N-word and “choked” on the bus by his “bus-buddy” for simply being himself. Where do I start? Who are these 10-year-olds and who are their parents and family members? What examples are we setting for them? How are we handling our home environments? Where are they learning this hatred from? What exactly is going on in our homes, in their heads, in their hearts?
It is easy to blame the teachers and counselors and the school system for not “checking the bullying at school”, but what about at home? What is happening there? Are we as parents now simply having children and leaving them to be raised by others? As a part of the village it takes to raise children, I must say, it is not my primary responsibility to raise yours for you, just as it is not yours to raise mine. We MUST as parents, stop and retrace our steps. We MUST accept our own responsibilities and accept the roles we are playing or not playing when it comes to raising our kids right. We MUST accept our own fair share of blame and then, maybe, we can seek to rectify. We MUST as a matter of urgency resist the urge to play the blame game. Enough already.
Earlier this week, the news broke about the suicide streak in Australian teen girls, a total of 5 girls aged 12-15 years have taken their lives since the beginning of this year, 2019. Blaming everything from child abuse and neglect, to sexual abuse, to poverty and even poor governance, nowhere does this article mention bullying, however, Rochelle Pryor’s last Facebook post clearly stated: “once I’m gone, the bullying and racism will stop”. This shows that even when reported, the news can sometimes be skewed, further compounding the problem and delaying any solutions.
As a pediatrician, child advocate and teen expert, the least I can do is join my voice with others trying to make a difference, to put an end to bullying by our children, at school, at home, at work, and wherever else it might be. Here are five (5) things every parent must do, today, now, in order to help in the fight to end suicide from bullying.
TALK to yourself. Start at home. Check your life. It is the mirror through which your children look at life. How are you living it? What kind of language are you using when you refer to people of other races, or other convictions different from yours? Is there some domestic violence or abuse going on in the home? Is there name calling? Are you putting yourselves down in front of your children? Do you argue a lot? Should you be in counseling? Do you speak to your children about what they should not be doing or saying in school? Do you even know your children and who they hang out with at school or at play? We must realize that if our kids are the bullies, it might not all be their faults. They might be needing some love, we might be needing to change the way we are doing things at home. They might need counseling or therapy. I recommend we watch this 2006 movie about 5th graders called “how to eat fried worms“, it touches on bullying at home and some of its consequences.
TALK to your children. We are going to have to tackle these questions head-on. Ask them the question directly, “are you a bully at school, on the bus, at the playground, on the internet, in your group chat?” Explain in the simplest terms what you mean by those words. My youngest son was a member of a group chat where some name-calling was going on one time, I saw it when I looked through his phone. I addressed it, made him report it to the school authorities, and he lost his phone privileges. He had not participated in the name-calling, but he had said nothing in the child’s defense either. 70% of children are bystanders when bullying is going on. The child being picked on in the group chat has Tourette’s syndrome, a disability he cannot help. And my child’s behavior was not good enough for me. Ask your child if he or she is bullied, or if they are bystanders when bullying is going on. Ask them what they do if or when they observe bullying going on. Now, if your child is neither the victim nor the bystander, maybe he or she is the bully. Go through your child’s room and their things, see if they happen to have stuff that does not belong to them. This might be a sign.
TALK to their friends. This means we have to know their friends, and better yet, their friends’ parents. When my youngest son David, 14, had some issues with bullying at school, (he was having a hard time transitioning after his two brothers went off to college) one of his friends’ had told his mom, who in turn told me. He had taken someone else’s lunch and eaten it, and lied about it, among other things. Ask their friends directly if they are bullies, or if they know any bullies in the neighborhood, or if they themselves are bullies. We must be seen as part of the community when it comes to raising our children. I had to have a chit-chat with David’s friends a few weeks ago after I overheard him say to David, “if you don’t come out and play ball with me, then you are gay”. I was like, “what?” Apparently, the kid had wanted to play ball with him but David had made an excuse about having to finish up his homework and needed a rain check. After a little tet-a-tet with the young lad, we fist-bumped and I went along my way, content that at least for that moment, I had stopped that line of thinking.
TALK to the school. Yes, of course, the school is the extension of the home. After taking care of the home front, we must engage the school. Most of the parents of these children we read about had frequent engagements with their kids’ schools. We have to ensure that the school sees us as a present parent. You must be all about your child’s business. Get to know your child’s teachers, get to know the counselors. Get to know their coaches, their dance instructors, their tutors. Anyone who imparts any kind of knowledge on your child you should get to know. Believe me, that will make a huge difference in the end. Imagine your child was about to bully someone, the fact that they know – you know their teachers so well will put a bit of a hindrance on that tendency. Furthermore, the teachers will be your second set of eyes and ears when it comes to guidance and assistance with your child. Having an alliance with your child’s teacher can only be a good thing. Unfortunately, we hear lots of stories of how the schools in some cases claim they had no idea any bullying was going on. Like the case of 8-year-old Gabriel who was knocked out in the school bathroom by bullies a few days before he hung himself.
TALK to a healthcare provider. If you do find out that your child is the bully (and believe me, this happened to me) Talk to someone. Talk to someone right away. Get them counseling. That made a huge difference in my child. It helped us realize and understand the reasons behind his actions. There are licensed therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists and pediatricians like me waiting to help you and your child. I understand that we never want to believe our children are capable of such horrific acts we read about in the news, but, they are. We have to change our mindset about that. We must do the needful and help them because the bully often resorts to that behavior as a result of their own inside pain and stress and trauma and insecurities. They too sometimes may have been a victim and as such, need some love and understanding and care. Let us remember that babies are born, innocent, then life happens. We do not of all things want to be the parent of the child who was in any way responsible for the death of another. So, pick up the phone, make that appointment and speak to a healthcare provider about your child, the bully, you’d be glad you did.
An edited and truncated version of this blog was accepted as a guest blog post on Successful Black Parenting Magazine, check it out here.
In this cough, runny nose and colds season, I cannot find any more befitting time to publish this article, that I first wrote for kevinmd.com last month in honor of the National Antibiotic Awareness week here in the US (November 12-18) It has become such a huge problem, that I am planning a TEDx talk on this topic in 2019 (stay tuned). I feel helpless sometimes, worse still, I feel hopeless most times when I think about the future of our world, our universe with antibacterial resistant germs aka superbugs. As a pediatrician, I have continued to experience a huge pushback from parents, and it is mostly NOT their faults. WE, care providers (Doctors, Midlevels, Pharmacists, Nurses, Medical Students, Residents) have all played major roles in what I call “excessive antibiotic prescription syndrome, or excessiveantibioticprescriptionitis“, #ANOTHEROPIOID-LIKEEPIDEMICANYONE?
These days, no one waits for the body’s immune system to work anymore, no one waits to see if the child or adult for that matter, can fight the infection anymore, no wonder our generation is getting less and less able to fight even the most mundane of infections. We are ALL in a rush to get better, real fast, so we continue to perpetuate the behavior.
For those of you who have been following my story since this summer of 2018, you will remember that I quit my nine-to-five job to pursue a carrier in public speaking on a more semi-permanent basis. I started working part-time with a National Telemedicine company. I am extremely excited about the opportunity and I am very satisfied with the options it has given me to stay home, as I complete my Executive MBA, as well as spend time with the family, a rare opportunity that I have never had in my entire adult working life of almost 30 years. I have realized that there is more to life than working for the man. I have gotten to know my children again. For instance, my eldest son who is a junior at Stanford University came home for 2 weeks this summer and I was able to spend time with him one-on-one. I got to meet the man that he has become and got to know him on a totally different level. In essence, he left my home almost three years ago as a boy and came home this summer as a man. And I am eternally grateful for the opportunity, but I digress.
Unfortunately, this blog is not about me and my children, it is about the fact that in the last 16 weeks, with this new and fun experience of independence and a new way of practicing medicine (for me), has come a new revelation that is rather disturbing. The following, are 11 quotes from my telemedicine patient/parent encounters that have recurred pretty much since my days in private practice but more so in the past few weeks.
“Hello, doctor, my son has had a fever for 4 days now, is there a way we can get an antibiotic for that, please? Thank you.
“Ma’am, I know my body very well, and I know that when I get like this, the only thing that fixes it is an antibiotic”
“Her cough is really deep, and she has greenish-yellow mucus, I think she needs an antibiotic”.
“My children have been running fevers off and on for about 3 days now, the last time they were like this the other doctor gave us an antibiotic and it worked, can we have it again this time?”
“All the other doctors we have spoken to have given us antibiotics I don’t understand why you won’t”.
“Are you saying you’re not going to treat my child?”
“…and what if his stomach doesn’t get better in two days, does he now get an antibiotic at that time?”
“So, how long does he continue to cough before he gets an antibiotic?”
“Can my little girl get an antibiotic for a pink eye? I know it’s a virus but I feel like an antibiotic will help, it did the last time”
“Sir, simply look back at our records, you will see that she gets antibiotics every time she has a ‘sinus infection’, that is the only thing that works for her when she gets like this”
As doctors, we all know that antibiotics are good, but they can also cause life-threatening problems when used recklessly, or when used excessively. However, in my opinion, I do not believe that we have done our due diligence in educating our patients and their parents appropriately to this point, hence their constant reliance on antibiotics for improvement of symptoms regardless of etiology. Even if we have done a fair enough job so far, I believe there’s a need for persistence and insistence on daily teaching of ourselves, our mid levels, our patients, trainee residents, and the entire medical team about the dangers of antibiotics, and especially, the dangers of their over-prescription. At this point I feel like we have to proceed with reminding ourselves; one doctor at a time; one trainee at a time; one pharmacist at a time, and one midlevel provider at a time, about the need for hypervigilance in this matter. I dare add a quick reminder that Sir Alexander Flemming himself said “ The greatest possibility of evil in self-medication with penicillin is the use of too-small doses, so that instead of clearing up the infection, the microbes are educated to resist penicillin and a host of penicillin-fast organisms is bred out which can be passed onto others until they reach someone who gets a septicemia or pneumonia which penicillin cannot save. In such a case the thoughtless person playing with Penicillin treatment is morally responsible for the death of the man who finally succumbs to infection with the penicillin-resistant organism. I hope this evil can be averted”.
I find this quote extremely inspiring, however, even though his original fear was for under-dosage of penicillin, our problem today entails both underdosing and overusing. As much as I worry about my patients who have confided that they “shared the Amoxicillin meant for one child among the three children” or they “used the left-over Omnicef from last time, this time, because little “Misty” had the exact same symptoms as little “Joe” did the when he was sick”, hence perpetuating underdosing behavior, this write-up is mainly about overuse of antibiotics, and not only in humans, but also in livestock (something I rarely think about) In a 2015 paper, Business Insider wrote that in her TED talk, Maryn McKenna, a journalist, had cried out about the excessive use of antibiotics to fatten farm animals and prevent them from getting sick, thus causing widespread presence of antibiotics in circulation, leading to bacterial exposure to inappropriate doses, and therefore, resistance.
In a recent article published by the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy titled “antibiotic treatments and use in hospitals and long-term care facilities” it was observed that 30% to 50% of antibiotics prescribed in hospitals are unnecessary or inappropriate”, thus underscoring our own contribution to the situation. In that article, they refer to the term “antibiotic stewardship” as a process of evaluation and optimization of antibiotic use. It is being increasingly promoted as a means to reduce antibiotic resistance, adverse events, treatment complications and costs within institutions. Unfortunately for us practicing physicians, the recent WIRED article from March 2018 titled; The Yelping of the American Doctor by Maryn Mckenna, indicates that 2 million Americans are sick yearly from antibiotic related issues, and calls out us doctors as being part of the problem, when we write antibiotics for viral infections and or we give low-doses, the wrong dose, the wrong directions for use, or the wrong antibiotics for the ailments. It further points out that all of these factors contribute to the patient being sick, and developing antibiotic resistance and that antibiotic resistance costs the US 2.2 billion dollars in medical expenses yearly. Pressure and fear of bad online patient satisfaction scores are the main reason given by doctors that were surveyed for writing unnecessary antibiotics, as evidenced by the just-released NPR article titled Patients Give Doctors High Marks for Prescribing Antibiotics for Common Sniffles which notes that patients felt more satisfied with their doctors’ visits when they received antibiotics for upper respiratory tract infections, whether they needed it or not. As a result, doctors are now writing prescriptions for the patients who for the most part do not know what they’re asking for or why. Some of the other reasons cited include physician fatigue at the end of the workday and “just-in-case” situations like those that arise at the urgent care settings or with a new patient in the office.
The struggle is real for us doctors. One time I found myself arguing with a patient’s mother on the phone, who according to her, knew her child’s body and knew that “only an antibiotic would fix the problem”. She got really upset because I essentially refused to give her 17-year-old daughter an antibiotic prescription for a maternally diagnosed “sinus infection” after 4 days of symptoms of nasal congestion and cough. She challenged me and actually threatened to lodge a complaint against me, to which I gingerly informed her that I would be glad to do the same, and I did. I stood my ground and refused to give her what she wanted, strictly because her child did not need it, prompting her to declare that she would simply call back and get another doctor and would get her way!
Luckily for me, these experiences have not deterred me, over time, I have persisted and continued on my mission to educate my patients, and more and more of them are now doing better with listening to me and trying to understand my reasoning. Many of them actually thank me, happy that someone took some time to explain the proper reasoning to them. On my part, I always end the talk by empowering them to take a moment next time their provider prescribes antibiotics for themselves or their children, to respectfully ask that burning question: “doctor, does my child really need those antibiotics?”
As a Nigerian-born physician, the plight of my people in the third world countries has not escaped my mind. In Nigeria, like in most developing countries, people still generally walk up to the chemist or pharmacy and purchase medications over-the-counter, antibiotics included. That behavior, in addition to the lack of effective government regulations amongst other issues with healthcare delivery, puts us all in even greater danger of antibiotic resistance and further underscores the fact that in September of 2017, the World Health Organization described antimicrobial resistance as “a global health emergency”.
Finally, I am writing this piece as a gentle reminder to each one of us to remember our Hippocratic oath “to first do no harm”, to educate the patients repeatedly until it sticks… and never tire in doing so. This, I say is one time we MUST all stick together and speak with one voice. Otherwise, it puts some of us who still do so, in a weird light. Sometimes it might be necessary to be firm and insist on doing what is right in order to practice good medicine. And in case you are thinking otherwise, always remember that never has it been known that a defendant told his defense attorney exactly how to defend him in court. Our patients should neither be telling us how to treat them, nor threatening us, nor grading us better, based primarily on antibiotic prescriptions.
“Widespread use of antibiotics promotes the spread of antibiotic resistance. Smart use of antibiotics is the key to controlling its spread” A. P. J. Abdul Kalam
“When antibiotics first came out, nobody could have imagined we’d have the resistance problem we face today. We didn’t give bacteria credit for being able to change and adapt so fast”. Bonnie Bassler
Last Friday, as I sat finishing up notes on the last of my almost 30 physicals (this number is never any surprise for us Pediatricians this time of the year, it’s back to school week, so every Thomason, Dickinson and Harrison is lining up for sports physicals and regular physicals and all sorts of clearance and medication forms that need to be filled out and turned in “yesterday”) I took a deep breath and exhaled, my mind filled with the events of the day. As is customary, my beloved patients often postpone their physicals all summer, in search of sandy beaches and clear blue vacation skies, so it’s usually a mad rush the first week of school.
I found myself reflecting on the patients I had seen that day as I often do at the end of my day. Most of them were mundane well baby and well child checkups, nothing really of note, a few of them had minor issues to clear up before returning to play…but one of them stood out clearly like a lily in a field of carnations…a 16year old we shall call “Maya”. I have met Maya only a couple of times in the past and I have known her to be a troubled teen, plagued with depression and anguish, never really smiling, not much eye contact, not much of an affect…just sad. I have tried to manage her depression the best I can with counseling in the office, a referral for proper psychotherapy. My good friend, and child psychiatrist sees her regularly and has placed her on an appropriate dose of antidepressants, and she reportedly goes to counseling regularly, all with little or no change in her mood(s)
She came in that day in the company of her mother and her older 17yr old sister. I sensed something wrong right away, but I continued my usual intros and salutations and other little talk. Her mom could not stop fidgeting, with the characteristic continuous knee shaking. Her sister’s face was buried in her mobile device for pretty much the duration of the visit, except when I inquired about her. It turned out her sister was also to be seen that day. Both mother and child proceeded to explain to me that her sister needed to be seen for “stomach problems” that only happen at her high school, stemming from her “unique eating habits”, and her lunch time not being fixed at a particular time of the school day. This apparently never happens at home or during the holidays or vacation, when she reportedly “has her own eating schedule”. She wanted a note from me to the school nurse authorizing her to eat her lunch at the exact time she wanted, or she would develop abdominal cramps, nausea and headaches and “get so sick” she would end up being sent home from school. This story line and request stuck me as bizarre, I recognized a familiar thread of possible anxiety in her sister, and maybe some co-dependency in her mom, but I digress…
I somehow am a magnet for depressed and suicidal teens, and Maya, was no different. She made absolutely no attempt to engage with me, no eye contact, shoulders drooped over, melancholic and flat affected. She appeared pale, ashen and sullen, with dark circles around her eyes, she simply looked like she could use a looooong-warm-heart-filled-hug. During the physical exam, she hesitated to take off her sweat shirt, but I insisted, eventually, her mother ordered her to do so. She did so veeerrry-reluctantly, and immediately pronated both forearms…I gently supinated them, and to my horror, revealed numerous, clearly visible, freshly carved cuts all over her forearms, extending from her wrists all the way to her elbows, on her left and right forearms respectively. I said nothing, gently turned them back to her preferred position, completed her examination, and walked back to my seat. I then calmly asked her mom about Maya’s depression and how her cutting behavior was fairing. She hurriedly replied “oh, a lot better, she is receiving counseling, and has not cut in 2years. 2yrears?? I thought to myself, more like 2days!!… Her response immediately made me stop typing on my laptop EMR, I looked up at her, made sure my words came out clearly and as gently as my rapidly beating heart could muster, as I said, “No ma’am, I am afraid but I have to tell you that Maya has fresh cuts on her forearms and wrists, that are probably not more than 2 days old…”
The rest of the visit was a bit awkward. Her mom asked to see the cuts, Maya vehemently refused, and an uneasy silence set in after I explained to mom that, she would probably do better waiting until they got home to approach her alone in her bedroom. Meanwhile, we should probably revisit her counseling sessions, and explore the possibility of an in-house facility if possible, especially since her self-completed PHQ-9 score that day was a total of zero.
I write this story today to remind myself of my why. To urge each one of us doctors to remember our why(s) Never lose sight of the reason you went into medicine, no matter what. We are a special breed, a unique set of like-minded individuals who choose service to humanity above all. We choose to make a difference in our patients’ lives regardless of all the administrative, legislative, personal and sometimes insurmountable difficulties we face daily in the field. I was reminded that day of my reason for leaving my beloved 9-5 job to follow a passion of fighting to end teen depression and teen suicide. I was reminded to follow my heart and believe in my dream. I was reminded to stay the course, because, for every Maya in my office, there are a hundred or even a thousand more out there, so, I must go forth. “The harvest is plenty, the laborers, few…”, Luke 10:2
PS: My website dedicated to fighting teen depression and teen suicide, teenalive.com is LIVE, click the link to check it out!
This week was fairly emotional and trying for me at work. I am nearing the end of my 2mo notice and the emotions are getting real and raw. I have had lots of patients find out both from me and from the nursing staff and they are not taking it lightly. I have had patients’ moms crying, I have joined my tears with theirs, and the s*** is getting real. But just like Julius Caesar, I must go forth. Isn’t that the definition of faith?… going forth in trust and belief?
I still struggle with the unknown future, and the uncertainty of not having an immediately apparent source of income, and still marvel at the guts it has taken for me to do this…
The first time I did something this gutsy was in 1999 when I started my own private practice only months after finishing residency. That. was. Trying! I had only one son, Papa. Luckily, I was breast feeding, so at least the poor kid had a somewhat steady source of nutrition. I, on the other hand would eat an apple for breakfast, some noodles for dinner and barely have enough for lunch in those early days before my private practice truly took off. I was terrified, unsure, flat broke, and diffident, but committed and determined, for so many reasons, top of which was my J-1 visa that was about to expire…“whaatt?? girl, you better get it together and get that practice started in that rural area of South Kakalaki that is a qualified HPSA (health professional shortage area) before you find yourself on the wrong side of 45’s great big wall…” my id said to my ego.
Even more gutsy was when I filed for divorce from my now ex-husband. Nervous, afraid, unsure, but determined to divorce a strong-willed “Africa-man” (broken English accent) to the pure amazement and shock and (probably pity) of my onlookers. Many of whom I know, not only thought, but also believed I had lost my mind…what?, you? Naija woman, filing for divorce??? whatever will your people say?? But he is such a quiet man, a good man, what did you do to him? have you done lost yar mind? you dey crase? who do you know ever did that in your family? what have you children become these days? no one wants to stay in their husband’s house anymore, what about your children, how will they manage? blah blah blah. To which I would reply something in the realm of “darling, I don’t expect you to understand…but, he is now single, so please introduce him to any of your available single sisters, cousins, nieces, etc…since he is such a good man…(swinging my hips and whipping my neck and walking away as I roll my eyes…)
Another time I did something very gutsy in recent memory was when I joined the United States Air Force at the age of 42…! Now, at this time, ma guys had probably decided I was a crazy kid that needed prayers…they all probably shook their heads in wonder, said a prayer for me, and commended me into the hands of God (thankfully) as they walked away in disbelief…but if they thought that was bad, then the news that I was getting married to a woman, or that I had gotten married to a woman, finally “broke” the proverbial internet and sent them all in a frenzy…! I guess with those instances in mind, it should not come to my “followers” as a surprise that I quit my day job with not so much as a replacement in its place, to pursue a passion (that potentially is non paying) while I have two sons in college. And bearing in mind that their completely absentee father is absolutely NO help, financially or otherwise… But, if by so doing, I am able to stop one single teenager from committing suicide or spiraling into the dark space of depression, then it was ALL WORTH IT!
I guess that is where my vision leaves their ordinary sight to set off, plotting its own path.
Bringing me back to the topic of today…
In the past few weeks, I must say I have felt the hands of God more in my life than I can honestly say I have in recent memory.
Since deciding to take up this new journey of re-branding myself. It has been one revelation and one learning experience after another. I have now decided to trust that I have a guiding hand from above and let it do its work in my life.
From my chance encounters to my scheduled meetings, to my patients, to their parents, to my kids, to my extended and nuclear family, to my co-workers to my adversaries, it has all been one message of positivity after another. I have felt nothing but God’s hands on this chess board called my life. Through the transition thus far, He has been intentionallydeliberate. I have seen him move Pawns, Queens, Knights, Bishops and Kings in my way, all to propel me to a new level of self-understanding and self appreciation. He hasdeliberately put the right people in my path, and what I do with them is entirely up to me. But put them in my path, He has. I can only liken the situation to the old days of Long Playing records (LPs), when we would select the record, place it on the gramophone, pick up the pin, and carefully place it on the desired track to play to our delight.
He has literally placed all kinds of helpers, advisers, new acquaintances, collaborators, teachers, mentors, and future team mates etc on the road with me. I shall give you the full details of each encounter at a later blog. Just know that, henceforth, I am a firm believer in the deliberateness of His actions in mine and everyone else’s lives. We all simply need to have our eyes open to these encounters and know that He IS ever present and ever working. Whether good or bad, it is designed as He wants it. He might not give you fish, if He knows you already know how to fish, but He will supply you with the fishing rod, the hook and the worms, you will however have to find the river, and then cast your rod.
Has it all been good news along the way? absolutely not. Has it all been smooth sailing?, not at all. But through it all, through the disappointments and the good times, there has always been a hint of positivity in the air, and I deliberately choose that energy, no matter how tiny… I am still nervous about my decision, but no longer as much. I am still anxious that things will not be easy, but nothing good comes easy they say, so I must be doing something right. For I know deep inside that, indeed, it is well, and it is rated AG (all good)…
Cheers to the future!!
PS: My website dedicated to fighting teen depression and teen suicide, teenalive.com is LIVE, click the link to check it out!
“when writing the story of your life, don’t let anyone else hold the pen”
“what you think of yourself is much more important than what people think of you” ~anonymous
So, my middle man child (MMC), Chidi went off to college this weekend. My quiet strength. To say he will be missed, is a gross understatement.
He came into my life, 6wks early after 23hrs of labor amidst demands by my nursing staff and gynecologist, not to push… Hmmm, are you kidding me? I had been laboring non stop with this sweet-full-head-of-hair-child who decided to rush in when it wasn’t time yet. And at that point, I had had enough and was ready to evict him (cos what he aint fi’na do is hurry up and wait up in me).
His pregnancy had been very deliberate, he was made in Charleston SC, I knew the exact moment, weird, but true. I was excited, and joyful and scared at the same time. I already had a beautiful son, and didn’t really care if it was another son…mmmm, nah! I wanted a girl, of course, and I thought it was a girl, because his pregnancy was very different from his brother’s. I however knew he was a boy when my nose would not stop getting wider, and my skin would not stop getting darker. I experienced the worst case of heart burns, and cravings with him. Notable was one day I remember curling up in the fetal position in abdominal pains, thinking my stomach was going to burst! Then again, there was the day a patient’s mom cooked me a large pot of barbecued pig feet that I craved, and sitting on the living room floor with his then 2yr old older brother, we devoured the entire pot with our bare hands! Funny the great details our memories retain….sometimes ;0)
I owned my private pediatric practice at that time, and I remember the morning he decided to hurry in. I was getting dressed when I felt the sudden pangs, I suspected it, and told my ex-husband that I didn’t think it was a good idea to go to work that morning, but he insisted, stating it was probably just a cramp and I needed to go to work, what would happen to all the patients that had been scheduled to see me? I tried to argue, but it fell on deaf ears, so, (ever the dutiful wife) I finished dressing up, and got in the car for work. Well, as I was stepping out of the car, in the parking lot of my office I felt the familiar gush of fluid and a definite trickle down my legs, and knew right away. Only then did my beloved husband decided it was really labor, so we needed to head on up to the hospital (we shall talk about that relationship at another date, this blog is about my beautiful Chidi)
I remember watching Lifetime movies all through the labor pangs that day. At one time, the nurse came in and saw me calmly chewing gum and watching attentively. She noted that I had no epidural drip going, asked me if I was in any pain. I responded, “not really”, she then checked me out, and declared that I had a “thick cervical rim” and warmed that I might end up having a Cesarean section if I continued that way. At that moment, the inner Wakandan woman in me awoke and declared, “I will push him out before you guys cut me”. She chuckled and left, and I murmured “try me” to her back. When she returned after about one hour, and checked again, she noted that I still had a thick rim, and she was going to get the on-call doctor to confirm the need for a C/S since I had been laboring for so long and they needed to avoid maternal exhaustion. I scoffed and announced that I was ready to push. She cautioned me not to, but I went ahead and started any way. She reminded me that as a doctor, I knew I could end up with a bad tear if I pushed against a thick rim, but I was already pushing, so she ran and got the doctor, and after only 4 tries, my main man came out swinging and screaming like a banshee! No tears to my cervix.
He is a dark chocolaty-skinned-bright-eyed-curly-haired baby, my youngest brother is dark chocolaty-skinned, similar features and just as handsome. However, his light skinned legend of a father, insisted he was “too dark skinned” to be his son. Whaat? what do you mean?? I tell ya, the things women have to endure in the name of marriage (smdh) I told him to be my guest, and do OR THINK what ever he wished. I knew exactly the day and time the child was made, and by whom…I simply “ain’t gat time for that!” (rolling eyes up emoji)
So, in spite of exclusive breastfeeding, my MMC was still colicky!! He grunted and whined and cried and griped, and repeated! He gave me a hard hard time those first few months. Thankfully mi madre came early enough for “omugwo” and gave me my much needed support, thank you mom! Somewhere along the line, we had to baptize him, again, my beloved hubby was at it, when he uttered the memorable words “over my dead body”. Why? you ask me, well because I was going to baptize him in the Catholic church like we had agreed to during our marriage counseling sessions before tying the proverbial (choking) knot! He was baptized at St. Catherine’s Catholic Church in Lancaster SC, his first name, “Chukwudi” meaning, there IS God, his baptismal name, “Crucifixio” meaning, Cross…go figure.
As a toddler, this kiddo LOVED trucks and airplanes and cars (especially hot wheels). He loved every toy automobile ever made. His favorite however, were the Thomas the tank engine line of carriers…Thomas, Diesel 10, James, Lucy, Gordon, Percy, Spenser, you name it, we had to get it…and he watched a daily stream of videos of Sir Topam hat, Thomas, and his friends. He would leave all these little critters all over the place, and many a day, we would trip and fall over dem lil devils! He was otherwise a relatively quiet yung’un. Didn’t say much, his big brother did most of the talking for him. “mommy Chidi wants this, mommy Chidi wants that…” It took an ENT friend of mine to draw my attention to the fact that he was not verbal… I, a pediatrician, diagnosing kids on the daily, I missed the fact that my son’s tonsils and adenoids were enlarged, resulting in conductive hearing loss, noisy snoring, mouth breathing and sleep apnea! He ended up having surgery; tonsils and adenoids removed, PE tubes placed in ear drums…etc
His elementary and middle school years went fairly well. Not much drama, he gets a bit extreme with his concrete thinking sometimes and will argue a point to the bone, much to the chagrin of his brothers. He distinguished himself from his older more driven brother. Always been consistent in his school work, never really got in any trouble, and always got commended for best behavior…not bad for one dudu kid with Naija roots. An overall cool kid, he only gave me heartache when he did not do his housework, which fortunately was not often. He is left handed (another thing his father did not want to happen, but after lots of arguing, he finally allowed him to be his sweet left handed self) and loves to draw. He always said he was going to be an aname cartoonist. No surprise he ended up picking architecture to study in college. He has always been quietly disposed, I call him my quiet strength. He has grown into a very well rounded young man (no drugs, no alcohol, no girls) He plays the trumpet (2017 Texas all state musician) and is self-taught on the ukulele, and the harmonica. He loves video games. Did I mention he LOVES video games?? he loves video games and burgers and cakes and sweets! For his recent 18th birthday, he only wanted a dozen donuts, no cake, no ice cream, just a glazed Krispey Kreme dozen.
He only wanted to apply to Texas Tech, he only wanted to go to Texas Tech, he got into Texas Tech and he will go to Texas Tech for the next 5yrs…Go Raiders! Guns Up!!
Sadly, I did not get to see him off to school because it clashed with the first day of fall semester for me. I hope he learns that I did this to instill in him the need to stay committed to his causes. He must finish whatever he starts and do it with pride. I can’t wait to visit him next weekend when we go to visit.
Fare you well my beloved son, the angels will watch and protect you that you may not fall on your head, or crush your foot against a stone…vaya con Dios.
“you’re off to great places, today is your day, your mountain is waiting so get on your way”
~ Dr. Seuss
PS: My website dedicated to fighting teen depression and teen suicide, teenalive.com is LIVE, click the link to check it out!