4 Airmen, Diego and Megan

 

Dear Blog,

Howdy? Long time! Just wanted to touch base and check in with you. I am having a fabulous life, you? So, after about one month off from my Rideshare seat, I returned to it today, and as usual, I was pleasantly delighted to meet my clients. The beautiful thing about Rideshare is you never know who you might pick up next. My clients are often so different from each other. Each one teaches me a new and different lesson about life. Again, that is why I do this. The story goes like this… I am writing a book on teens, depression, and suicide. I woke up this morning and as usual, I worked on a couple of chapters, but I just didn’t feel like it was flowing the I wanted, I was having a hard time getting into my characters’ minds to tell their stories, so I declared to my mother “I NEED a depressed and suicidal teen in my life right now!”. I proceeded to explain why, when I saw the puzzled expression on her face. We both shrugged and concluded that-that was going to be a tough one to pull off. So, I go about my business for the day.

Later on, since my numéro très had a birthday party to attend for 2 whole hours, I decided to seize the opportunity, take a break from my preparation for my Executive MBA midterms next weekend, and go online on my UberXL/Lyft apps to see if anyone was interested in a fun ride with Dr. Lulu! Unbeknownst to me, the Good Lord was going to use my clients today to show me yet again that He alone is Lord and King and more importantly, the Author of the universe.

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My first client, whom we shall call “Joe” was picked up less than a mile away, he was going in for his night shift at the “Howl at the Moon” downtown San Antonio. We exchange pleasantries, and I decide on a whim to give him one of my brand new business cards and inform him that I am a Public Speaker on Teen/Young Adult depression and suicide. He, in turn, gives me two free admission coupons to HATM, with discounts on happy hour drinks etc, and proceeds to sign me up for their email list for more (free) Happy Hour goodies! I am elated, accept my coupons graciously, thank him, and self-declared it would be a good shift for me today because I had started my day literarily touched by an angel. I inquire about his choice of music vs my audible book. He says he doesn’t really care, he would rather watch “Sex and The City” on his phone, and he would have his earbuds on. We both settle in for the ride downtown, and I proceed to continue listening to my “Four Hour Work Week, by Tim Ferris”. As we approach downtown, I shut the audible off to focus on the traffic and the people, I ask him if he heard about the 12yr-old boy who had committed suicide in a nearby town lately, his response almost knocked me off my seat! “Oh yes! my co-worker’s younger brother is his best friend, they are from Jourdanton” was his immediate response! I had never mentioned the name of the town, but he knew the right one… At this, I am completely speechless at the smallness of this world! What are the odds? How could it be? But it sure was. Sitting right behind me, in my car, was someone who knew someone, who knew someone, who knew the 12-year old that had been bullied on to taking his own life at a local middle school yesterday! Wow! I LOOOOVE doing this!

Next, I pick up a (two couple) party of 4 baby boomers at the Westin. One of them is disabled and has a wheelchair. Though my Sasha is a 7/8 seater UberXL-ready 2017 Toyota Highlander, they had the hardest time getting that wheelchair to fit in her trunk. They eventually did, and I sensed they were a bit flustered with the entire process. When I asked my usual icebreaker question “so how has everyone’s day been today?”, they all grunt and puff and reply “it has been a rough one”. Trying to cheer them up, I gingerly quip, “well, at least we are on our way to fun now”, to which one of the ladies retorted, “well, we are late to our event”. I think to myself, I had nada to do with it, then I hear myself say “well this Saturday evening downtown traffic is not going to help that”… an awkward silence follows. Then I change lanes and perk up by sharing a bit about what I do as I distribute my business cards. Front seat guy now informs me that they are from Florida, but he would certainly keep my card and keep me in mind…I am like, YES! We have some small talk about hurricane Michael and its toll. Things get a bit worse when the address that he had put in as their destination on the Uber Navigation, was in the middle of the nowhere! not Shuck Shack, on Grayson and Broadway as they had wanted. Turns out all that initial frustration I had sensed was because they were with a food tasting party and had missed their bus! A couple of phone calls and a couple more U-turns later, they are safely delivered to their destination. “Bon Appetit”, I think to myself as they say their thank yous and I drive off.

I hop over to Nueva Vista, an enchanted and quaint neighborhood tucked away next to the Pearl to pick up a couple who right away complement me on Sasha. I thank them and start my usual icebreaker questions. He quickly responds, “we are doing fine, but we are interested in this your car, we are looking for a multi-seater vehicle”. I happily tell them everything I can about my Sasha, as he tells me to ignore the Uber navigation system, and proceeds to guide me through their wonderful enchanted streets instead. I note the air is different there. I inform him that I am officially in love with his side of town. We make a right turn into San Pedro on our way to the movie theater on Route 410 and he points out Alta Vista a sister neighborhood on the left, another whimsical looking part of town. As I drop them off, I note to myself (be sure to bring the wifey here for a “romantical” drive someday) Ironically, his wife or rather, lady companion did not so much as utter a single word throughout the ride, and I can’t even remember if she said goodbye. But before I could process that thought, I got a chime to pick up my next client.

Handsome “Diego” joins my space at North Star Mall. He is an energetic, mid-to-late-twenties sweet smelly, colorful young man, getting off his shift at Michael Kors. He gets in the front seat, acknowledges my white LV Neverfull which I pick up and place on the floor in the middle row, thank him for the compliment, and tell him to get comfortable, as we start our ride. With a megawatt smile, he shares that he is “dog tired” because even though he had known he had to be at work this morning at 0900hrs, he had proceeded to go out last night, and got back really late. I go into mama-bird-mode and we talk a bit about growing up and taking responsibility for actions and such. We talk a bit more about his dreams and somehow get to the topic of his roommate with whom he had had a recent fight, he gently adds that he had bought him a small (make-up) gift from MK because he “hates the energy in their apartment when they argue and fuss”. I am full of admiration for this young man, who wants to make the world a better place, one gift at a time. I like him. We arrive at his apartments shortly thereafter, but he remains in the car because he is telling me all about the recent shooting at Pegasus downtown. Apparently, he had been there that night. He recounts how his mother had unusually texted him up to three times that night, the last text coming just minutes before the shooting. He says he suspects his mom somehow sensed something bad was going to happen and had been trying to reach him. I share my own mama-bird story about me and my son at Stanford, the night I had seen him in a dream reaching out to me, I had woken up with tears in my eyes, and when I called him, it turned out he was burning up in a fever and needed his Mama. An instant friendship is born. Diego left my car after earning one of my world famous warm hugs and promising to text me his employee discount code at MK…another satisfied client.

To pick up Ms. Megan, I had to make several U-turns, drive into the gated apartment complex, and wait for almost 2 minutes. As Uber starts charging her for my wait, I note a tall slim female approaching the car. As she walks up to me, wearing the latest millennial garb of a black mid-section-revealing-cropped-tee, on black double slashed jeans and tousled hair, I note that she is easy on the makeup and I think to myself with a corner smile… “that is exactly what my daughter would be wearing if I had one”. She greets me pleasantly, apologizes for her lateness, gets in the middle row, I move my Neverfull back up front, and she gets comfy. Right away I sense she has had a sad life. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.comShe has an ever so slight air of melancholy. I note that unlike most teens her age, she is not on her phone. She is not texting, she is not talking, she is looking straight ahead, both hands resting on her thighs and deep in thought. I remark on that, to break the ice, and she smiles ever so slightly. I know I am right. I start telling her about what I do, give her my business card. She asks for more cards and the next 23 minutes fill me with more awe than I could have ever imagined. She opens up and says the words that every parent of a teenager or everyone who is acquainted with one would give money to hear… “that is pretty cool that you are doing that”… I smile as I say, “thank you”. Then she not only proceeds to tell me that at her high school, they have had 7 suicides in the past 5 years, (the last two in the past year, one of which its anniversary is today!), but that she herself has had not one, or two, but three attempts at suicide! I CANNOT believe my ears! Earlier this morning, when I had asked the universe for a suicidal teen, I had absolutely NO IDEA this was in store for me. I thank the good Lord immensely, reach back with my right hand and take her right hand, she grabs it with both hands. and holds on, and I simply let her hold it as long as she needs to. I take a long deep breathe after she gets off at the LongHorn Steakhouse on I-35 South, shake my head slightly, and vow henceforth, to only speak out, that which I know I really want because it will come to pass.

Last stop for the evening was about a mile up the road on I-35 south. I pick up four Airmen from “the best tattoo place in town” according to front seat guy. They are young, late teens, early twenties-ish, full of life, and bright expectations for what the future has to offer in the best Air Force in the world, the United States Air Force, “first in flight”. After back row seat guy curses twice, I clear my throat and proceed to tell them I am a veteran of the USAF and ask how they were doing. Front seat guy tells me they are recent basic training grads from Lackland AFB, and currently at Camp Bullis for Security Forces training. Then comes a barrage of questions from all of them at the same time; “did you go through OTS?”, “did you ever get to deploy?”, “what do you think about Tyndall AFB?”, “would you do it again if given a chance?”, “what’s life like on the outside after a brief taste of the inside?” “did you do your 20yrs?” “what did you do while you were in?” etc. I smile and try my very best to address all of their concerns. One tells me he is from Kansas and would love to be stationed at McConnell AFB after I mention my brief manning-assist there. Another wants to know if I know anyone at Robbins AFB in Georgia, yet another asks me what I think about going in the reserves afterward, and then another wants to know about Alaska and if I could confirm that it is truly considered an overseas deployment. I marvel at all of this. It turns out to be such a fun trip, but I made sure I still got time to squeeze in a quick note on depression and suicide and the need to ensure they formulate good relationships and stick to the straight and narrow. By the time I drop them off at Top Golf I feel truly fulfilled and thankful for a fairly eventful and awesome shift. In a little under 3hours, I feel I have gained much more in knowledge than the nearly 80usd I have earned in cash today.

“if you want light to come into your life, you need to stand where it is shinning”

                                                                                             ~Guy Ginley~

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He has been intentionally deliberate.

Dear Blog,

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…

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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 intentionally deliberate. 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 has deliberately 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

                                                                                             

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…and just like that, numérò dos is gone…off to college.

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Dear Blog,

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)

NOTABLE MEMORIES    img_23301

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

MOST RECENTLY

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. 

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“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!

Continue reading …and just like that, numérò dos is gone…off to college.