When we allow our Health Challenges to Define us

Since I was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous #Leukemia #CML when I was 17 years old, over a decade ago, I remember my life seemed to revolve around hospital appointments, blood tests, scans, bone marrow aspirations. I had to consciously plan my day so that I have at least one full meal and ensure a bottle of water and chemotherapy (#gleevec) tablets are packed in my bag.

Where before I was an over-achieving student, my body now slowed me down. You know those all nighters spent cramming for an exam, or writing that paper, or preparing a presentation? From then on, I would be plagued by constant fatigue, flu/cough and struggling with chemo side effects like vomiting and diarrhea.

To everyone else, I maintained my bubbly, cheerful, friendly, energetic persona but now I was coming late to class, begging lecturers for extensions on deadlines and so forth. And my once forbearing and diplomatic persona was not so lenient anymore.

I wasn’t the typical #cancer patient. I wasn’t deathly pale (though I was far lighter skinned compared to before my diagnosis and chemo treatment) and sported a full head of raven black hair. Plus I didn’t have to go to the hospital for chemo treatments when mine was concealed conveniently in my bag to take “on-the-go”. I looked just like every other student. I remember one lecturer going so far as to say I was using my illness as an excuse. Hmm. I will chalk that one up to ignorance. Then came another mid-semester drop out. Each time it got harder and harder to return back to my studies.

I am sure you can relate to how such physical and health limitations begin to define us in such a permanent way. We don’t even realize when it becomes a part of who we are. I had gotten admitted to medical school just after I was hospitalized the first time I was diagnosed. I got to defer admission to medical school, but after my health took a hit my first year there, my doctor didn’t allow me to resume.

I relocated closer to my parents and would still pursue my dreams of being an emergency/disaster response doctor for several years to come in one pre-med course after another. Each time, I would transfer over to what I thought was a less intensive course.

I had to look for another degree to graduate with. It took me 9 years from when I graduated high school to obtain my college (university) degree. I had to leave behind my career dream a long time ago. I graduated with a management degree in Human Resource Management

Now, even in #remission, I’m afraid to push myself so I don’t break down. I can’t seem to find something to be passionate about, due to this deep-seated fear that it will not work out. I keep expecting one bad break after another and when good things happen, I am beyond grateful.

One thing I am free from however is living life as a if I am a ticking time bomb. This “tip-toe” kind of living when one believes they are living on borrowed time. When I got diagnosed, I was acutely aware that my cousin suffered from #leukemia for several years before dying at age 18. For so long I went through life one day at a time. I couldn’t even picture myself graduating, not to talk of getting married.

When I finally graduated university, after several interruptions and relocations, it was a huge breakthrough and victory God gave me as this wonderful man blindsided me with a ring on my finger. I didn’t even know where to begin wedding planning because I never spent a moment browsing social media for my dream wedding gown or wedding gown receptions. Time to take a leap of faith.

I have had amazing breakthroughs (miracle conception, pregnancy & journey into motherhood) since getting married and mentally am working through and moving beyond all that now. But I wanted to write down and attempt to capture how totally hopeless life can seem, or how one’s diagnosis can colour everything about one’s life if they choose not to actively take charge of their diagnosis and more importantly their emotional and mental state of mind.

Instead of letting our health challenges define us, or be the boss of us, why don’t we take charge? Arm ourselves with information, seek help, get proactive in selecting a team to help you overcome. It is said what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. But even if it purportedly will kill you, will it hurt to go down with a fight and a champion’s smile on your face? Better yet, why not be determined to beat the odds and be part of the 0.01% that do survive?! Never underestimate the potent value of just a little Faith

Are you struggling with any issue, not something as ominous as cancer but issues like asthma, body image issues, eating disorders, a bad wrist/back, anything that serves as a limitation? Are you so nervous to talk with people that it is really affecting your mannerisms and happiness? Even if you have technically or physically gotten over an illness, are there still lingering issues affecting other areas of your life? Please I would love to hear your own story and where you are at the moment in your journey.

P.s. about The coffee pictures in this post … 😀 Maybe I just want you to remember that cup of coffee you left sitting on your table and come sit and read my thoughts. Come have a little chat with me

May God comfort the weary soul

If words could adequately describe
My bone-weary, battle-bruised exhaustion,
Eyes tingling and heavy from shedding an ocean of tears;
Head cobwebbed from a night of constant interrupted sleep;
Body weighed down from physical exhaustion,
Heart crushed and aching,
Soul quietly fading

All praises belong to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he is the Father of tender mercy and the God of endless comfort.

He always comes alongside us to comfort us in every suffering so that we can come alongside those who are in any painful trial. We can bring them this same comfort that God has poured out upon us.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 TPT

The day barely begun, already I have been through the emotional rollercoaster and back. I swore I will respect myself today. No more begging and groveling, no more chasing barefeet and bare-soul. God, I asked him for some mercy but Your Word says You are the Father of tender mercy. Wrap my battered soul in Your arms of endless comfort. Gone are the days I could spend wallowing in shame, regret and self-abasement. As a mother of a suckling babe, please help me to be stronger, a warrior in this area of weakness.

Almost instantly you send me your answer, as she raises her adorable doe-eyes to mine, lips smack in satiated satisfaction, she flashes her one-cheeked dimpled smile and utters her good morning in her own language “aaeesh ba ba ba ba…”.

You are a God who answers prayer. Your answer was already lying within my arms as I wrestled the emotions within. Help me to forgive and to love the way You love me. Unconditionally. With patience, kindness, and perseverant endurance.

Today Lord, I chose to turn to you instead of wrapping myself in my present circumstances or lack thereof. Help me Lord to do so even as I am tempted to fall into old habits.

Thank You Lord for your many blessings. The cool breeze sweeping through the room, bringing comfort to my weary head. Thank you God for the divine gift of motherhood and the seemingly bottomless reservoir of strength you provided along with it. With the challenges of keeping charge of an active little gymnast, you have provided the grace and strength. With all I have been through and all that I am going through, I know that You are God.

Thank You for the promises in your Word: I choose to trust that You will work all things out for my good. Thank you for the plans you have for me to prosper me and not to harm me. Thank you that though I walk through the waters, you will not allow me to drown. Even amongst the blazing fires of suffering and trials, you will not allow me to burn.

Thank you for the gifts you deposited in me. I know the present trial is to push me to reach within myself and tap into dormant gifts and use them to shine for your Glory and to testify to your mercy, comfort and unending goodness. Free me of this fear-mindset that has held me back for far too long. I choose to walk in confidence and boldness of the calling you have set before me. Thank you that You are my strength in the areas of my weakness. Amen

Head faintly throbbing,
Eyes still tingling and heavy,
Ears ringing with squeals and baby babbles,
Stirrings of hope rising in this tired soul
Sunlight streams through the netted windows
Filling my world with a warm, comforting golden hue,
Reaching down into the reservoirs of strength,
I rise up to face the day

If troubles weigh us down, that just means that we will receive even more comfort to pass on to you for your deliverance! For the comfort pouring into us empowers us to bring comfort to you. And with this comfort upholding you, you can endure victoriously the same suffering that we experience. Now our hope for you is unshakable, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings you will also share in God’s comforting strength.
2 Corinthians 1:6‭-‬7 TPT

My Companion for Life, My Forever Valentine

My companion for life,
Calm sailing, amidst strife;
Constant cuddle bunny,
Through dark nights rainy,
Planning, working, building,
By Gods grace prevailing.

Commitment type of love
Comes only from above,
Unconditionally,
Help me Lord, I’m weary
To love him through the hurt
Though his words spite and curt.

Show me Lord this divine love,
Most when push comes to shove;
Grant me your perfect peace,
Forgiveness to release
Your patience and kindness.

Forever Valentine,
I am yours, you are mine;
Our vows a renewal,
I become valuable,
Excuses to steer clear,
God’s grace will be my guide,
You’ll need no more to chide.

Love Overflowing: Motherhood Lessons

My little Angel lays suckling at my left breast, the perfect picture of contentment, chubby fingers playing with the folds of my tummy. Beads of sweat glistening on her rounded forehead, her sign of a satisfying breastfeed.

Our baby girl when she was little over a month old

Laying propped up among pillows in a position I can find even when half asleep in the earliest hours of the night, those days of early motherhood seem a fond distant memory. Do any of you remember or are going through the fumbling moments, mother and baby learning how to navigate the breast and nipple? Trying to remember all the tips the nurse showed you or you read on the internet about “latching”? Ah the beautiful dance of a labour-&-delivery-wearied mama with her struggling bundle of hungry lips, upraised chin and closed eyes.

Motherhood has proven to be the most challenging, but utterly hands down, the most rewarding stage of my life so far. Even in those first few months of motherhood surviving on little to no sleep, yet finding the strength and happiness in getting up at the slightest wimper of the newest addition to the family. The joy I felt when even from her first month, my baby girl recognized me from my presence in the room. My Nigerian mum-in-law kept saying our baby ” can smell my breastmilk” and encouraged me to sleep with her on the bed during the day will help her sleep better enveloped in the reassuring scent of her mama’s milk.

There is nothing that compares to the overwhelming love of a mother for her child. It is the closest we can ever get on Earth to God’s unconditional love for us. As humans, we love, usually expecting to be reciprocated in return in one form or another. Many married and long term couples will have to admit to agonizingly crushing experiences when our spouse or lover repeatedly disappoints or falls short of our expectations.

The joy of just watching your baby’s chest rise and fall as they sleep, rosy cheeks and closed eyes in a blissful expression of deep slumber. The rush of oxytocin, the heady feeling of warmth and unexplainable, overwhelming love as you look down at your child suckling at your breast. Carrying this precious child for nine months, going through hells doors and back to birth them and then caring for their every need, expecting nothing in return. Yet all it takes for that gummy filled smile and us moms swell up with pride, like we have won the most prestigious award on the planet!

When I became a mother, I also experienced my mother’s love in a whole new dimension and appreciation. My tiny built Asian mum is the epitome of strength and support. Even though our baby girl’s approaching a year, my mum still fusses and buys food stuffs and calls daily and makes frequent visit similar to when I just gave birth. She even built the nerve to finally drive on the highway when we moved house. Those of us who have had the pleasure of driving or being on the roads in Nigeria would understand the sheer guts it would take to go behind the wheel here. Its also amusing to see my mum blossom in her new “grandma” role.

Proud grandma on Christmas day

With Valentines day approaching, lots of money will be spent and made. Hearts will soar, hearts will break. Relationships will shatter for some, proposals will matter for others. Yet I am perplexed to why a most fulfilling love is nowhere highly celebrated. Though in a way I am glad one of the most amazing expressions of love isn’t nearly as commercialized and trivialized even on mothers day.

Surrounded by reminders of Valentines day, those of my readers who are single, please don’t feel depressed. Valentines day is supposed to be a celebration of love and you need to be aware of and appreciate other forms of love in your life: your parents’ amazing love & support, your siblings, even friendships.

And I am not totally disillusioned because now our precious baby girl is in her angelic cute phase but there will come a time she grows up, and disappoints and will test the limit of this seemingly infinite supply of mothers love. But for now, let the world be a better place as we honor and appreciate the mothers we know.