(Written with James Arthur softly crooning ‘Recovery’ in my ears).
Do you have that one friend who’s always sick – either from falling into self-inflicted unfortunate situations; like stepping on a nail because she was into a heated argument about whether squirrels who are allergic to nuts exist; or by conditions beyond her control but is funny nonetheless…like being allergic to basically everything under the sky. My friends do… Me…I’m that friend.
A swollen eye today, an allergic reaction tomorrow, a fever the next. It’s a rollercoaster of illnesses and hospital trips. You’re beginning to sound like a broken record, constantly being ‘sorried’ by everyone. Constantly being worried about (or not being worried about enough). It gets old.
And I write this for myself, my friends as much as I’m writing for the next person who doesn’t know how to act around sick folks but if you have a me in your circle and you need to find a balance in dealing with them, get in here.
The first step is realizing none of it is their fault. Look, even when they eat chocolates they’re allergic to or cuddle a cat and get the hives, it’s their fault but it’s not. Sometimes, we just want to be normal, undisturbed by our anomalies. So bite your tongue when it comes to the tip to say ‘You shouldn’t have…’ Maybe later you can. But at that point, believe me, we know you’re concerned but you’re doing more harm than good. Just say lots of sorries and keep your cool.
Which leads to the second tip – Handling the drama. Everyone handles different kinds of pain in different kind of ways. When I have a migraine, I’d like for you to keep it quiet please. When I have the hives, talk to me and don’t make me scratch that itch! Please! Thank you! A ‘what can I do?’ would go a long way in determining what kind of support the sick party needs at that moment. Never assume. ‘Do you need me to… hold your hand/get you water/rub your back/give a massage/send money(seriously)’ would help massively. Otherwise, even your best intentions would become irritating rather than calming.
And Sympathy. Seriously, nobody likes an unsympathetic caregiver. If it’s in your nature to be a tad unsympathetic, drop all the smartass comments right at the door before you come in. The only thing worse than an unsympathetic caregiver is an unsympathetic caregiver.
We all know tending to the sick is no mean feat. And we thank you for your maximum support and encouragement. Which is why we on the receiving end (the carees, so to speak) need to do better. I know it’s a hard and frustrating time in our lives but making every other person frustrated doesn’t help. Believe me, I’ve tried (this doesn’t apply to Nigerian aunties that say things like ‘Stop being sick’. Err, auntie I’ve been told to ‘stop being poor’ countless times. You need my bank statement to see how that advice is NOT HELPING?)
But I’ve found living with these in mind does make dealing with illnesses a tad bearable👇
1. Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away – Been there. Done worse. Listen to your body. Seriously, no one knows it more than you do. You feel a little ‘somehow’, sit peacefully and communicate with your body.
Me to my body(feeling a migraine coming on)- Hey there sis. We good?
Body: Nah. You gotta chill for a second there. You’re working yourself to death. Sleep for a few.
Pop an aspirin before though.
Me: Thanks sis.
And nine out of ten times, my body’s right.
Learn to read the signs. If anything feels just a little out of place, tackle it before it goes farther than that.
2. Stay Calm – Not to be the annoying voice you hear in a plane telling you to ‘keep calm’ when it’s about to crash or anything (not that I’ve been in a plane that’s about to crash but I know if there’s a voice by then telling me to be calm, it’s sure as hell going to be irritating), but this works. Apart from the fact that the anxiety makes your blood pressure skyrocket, staying calm actually helps you make rational decisions and keep a clear head. A few moments and it could be life saving – a few seconds to remember where you kept your inhaler, your IV, your drugs… could be the most important few moments of your life.
3. Stay faithful to your prescriptions – *face palms*. I probably need this reminder more than you do. But seriously brethren, try and stay focused on the goal here – Good health.
4. Make that hospital trip – Yeah, self medication is cool but have you actually had professional consultation? And no, Google doesn’t count. But if you’re a hospital-phobe like myself, the experience is probably more traumatizing than the illness itself – *cries in the blues and whites colours of the hospital* – so a few keys to surviving the trip will include:
1. Taking a book/music along to drown everything and everybody out.
2. Avoid eye contact with everybody.
3. Scented handkerchief to dampen all the antiseptic-like hospital smells.
Ogle your doctor
And in the very sage words of an unknown Nigerian ‘Las las, we go de alright.’