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Thursday, March 3, 2011


When I was in secondary school we all used to play sports once a week in a rotating fashion so that we all knew the basic rules of the big 4 manly sports, rugby, soccer, basketball and (I kid you not) volleyball.

One week it was rugby time and during the game I was handed the ball. All the various visions of glory came raining down on me. I had the ball in my hand as tight as a virgin, my focus was on the try line and everything else faded to grey. Its not that I couldn’t hear all my teammates screaming for the pass I just couldn’t care, adrenaline was pumping through all my veins juicing me up, preparing me for a mad dash to the end and a try. The wind and I were strolling partners i was that fast, my brain was already on the win when all of a sudden I felt a tugging on my t-shirt. I was spun around wildly and let go.

My first instinct was to protect myself from the fall so I put out my hand, wrist at right angles and landed with a crunch. The bone in my wrist jutted out not through the skin, that would have been too much to bear. The bone just came out of its socket like it had missed its way to the wrist and was using a different lane that ended nowhere instead hanging over the precipice of a cliff. It looked like it should have been painful, like I should have been screaming and unable to get up. It looked like I should have just lain down with my wrist clutched in my other hand like a bird with a broken wing. It looked like all I should have been able to do was trash around moving my legs in such a sporadic motion that the first thought to enter a spectator’s head was that I had broken my penis. Well looks aren’t always deceiving.

It hurt.

Then while lying there this one guy asks me whether I need anything. The pain screamed at me and I, showing remarkable restraint went with sarcasm

“Yeah a soda would be good right about now.”

Slowly and painfully almost laboriously they took me to the dispensary and I swallowed back a few aspirin. That quieted me down for a bit. My father asked one of my uncles who was nearby to pick me up from school and take me to this clinic where we have been going since we were first sick. It belongs to my aunt and I have always had excellent service there, I am in fact still alive. I have no problem with the level of care there only why, oh why did it have to be down a road that was so bumpy and full of potholes.

As we drove down the road towards it I was ok. A splinter had been set and my hand was not moving around so it was cool. then we onto this road, its perharps 150 meters of bumping, pumping, gravel that should be part of an off-road course for motorcycles. Every bump was a knife being stuck in my wrist and every landing was the blade being twisted till I bled. There was no bleeding and I wished there was so that the pain could be seen. As it happens my uncle could barely understand my facial expressions. At first I took it very stoically. Quiet as could be. Wincing every once in a while and then we hit an iceberg. And just like the titanic there was no way to survive that. My hand was not prepared. With ridiculous immediacy the pain shot through my brain and went straight to my eye glands. And as ashamed as I am to admit this I cried. Tears of honest pain.

Cuts are only skin deep but this was something else. The pain went right through my whole hand and came out the other side refined and reenergized. Recently I read about this jet that has an interesting engine system where the air is sucked into these turbines then combusted and let out the other side. The faster the air comes rushing in the quicker the acceleration the quicker the acceleration the faster the air comes rushing in. So the faster it goes the faster it can go. That’s the best way to describe the pain I was feeling right then.

My brain shut down, all logic went out the window, all my powers of anything except feeling pain as broken as my bone.

We finally reached the clinic. And again I wished for blood for no one was concerned for the poor boy with the broken hand. I even got admonishment for making a scene. “Noise won’t help anyone”. In a while my aunt who I may have mentioned owned the clinic came to the place and using a system of logic I have no handle on it was decided that I should go to Kenyatta hospital.

The lines stretch for miles, the hospital for acres. It has the highest density of medical professionals in Kenya yet they are no match for the multitudes requiring their care. It’s as big as Vatican city and as inefficient as you would expect any African government bureaucracy to be.

And yet here I was pathetic and in pain, the day had only just began…