Crutch Me One Time (Say it with Reggaeton).

Crutches hurt your back, stress your arms and give you the gait of a scarecrow on stilts. Even though I was possessed by a strange excitement when I first began to use mine, the novelty wore off chap chap. Life changes when you’re so openly hurt. People you’ve passed by for two years on your way to work all of a sudden stop and with sympathy in their voices, ask you what happened.

First I thought I was being mocked and became angry, but the concern seemed genuine so I mellowed out. That’s one thing that comes with crutches: paranoia.

I was walking up Capital shopper’s parking lot with my sister when I noticed that a trio of young adults had turned to stare. I couldn’t believe their bad manners. I scowled and began to complain loudly about the stupidity of Ugandans nowadays. After listening to me rant for a few seconds, Jero said, “But you realize you have just shaved the back of your head, right? You have a ponytail at the top and shiny kipalata on the bottom half of your scalp. Sure they may be wondering about the crutch, but this attention, you deserve it for wearing that hairstyle.” And she is right. I am used to the doubletakes. Because of the new crutches however, I was convinced that these people were intentionally trying to make me feel awkward.

Crutches provide the perfect response to the kiss-kiss, sister-sister laced overtures that Kampala’s idlers so love to make. Now if I feel a person’s words are offensive, I stop and threaten them with my crutch. So far, both men have run away with real fear in their eyes. I understand that I am a fine specimen of a woman, even with my crooked walk but ssebo, have some respect. I am struggling to get from place to place on this wonky leg and really don’t need your lechery in my life right now.

Breaking my leg has made me unable to abide unkindness, especially from people who are supposed to be making my life easier. Last week I wrote about how traumatized I was by the service at (a certain) hospital in Ntinda. Be fair, people. If you are going to be bad to me, make sure it is when I am full of health and can chase you down.

If you like to look different, the opportunity to accessorize your crutch will fill you up with glee (well, when the thing is not making your armpit yell with pain). I decorated mine with colorful flowers made out of kitenge material and paper beads, making it a bit easier to tolerate.

Lastly, crutches infantilize you. You are not able to blaze out of a room or hop on a boda at will. Because I hate being idle, I decided to continue going to work after my fibula broke

(stupid decision). It is not a very important bone and if it wasn’t for the fear of never wearing wedges/ running again, I wouldn’t even be using this crutch. I cannot leave or arrive at office on my own so my father’s car is very important to me now. His time keeping too. Do you remember when you were five and you realized that you were the last person in class who hadn’t been picked up yet? Do you remember how the tears started forming from the pit of your belly, how they traveled up to your eyes making you cry and cry like you’d never stop? That’s how I, big woman as I am, felt when father picked me up at 7pm last Monday.

Crutches change your life completely. I almost can’t remember walking any other way (lies, I really really can).

Of course I tried to use it as a modeling prop. One day, my moceling career is going to take off. You wait.

Of course I tried to use the thing as a modeling prop. One day, my modeling career is going to take off. You wait.

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I dared Mt. Muhavura and she dared me right back.

When I was leaving for Mountain Muhavura last Friday, I wrote a braggy facebook update daring the mountain to become steeper because I felt I needed a proper challenge to help me forget the week I had had. I got a challenge alright. As I write this, I have one cracked fibula and a body that is still bruised from the various ways I had to contort it as I climbed.

Well I wasn't climbing ALL of the time. I lay down on the trail and took pictures of my throbbing legs many, many times.

Well I wasn’t climbing ALL of the time. I lay down on the trail and took pictures of my throbbing legs many, many times.

Have you ever exerted yourself so much that even your elbows sweat? Has your body ever given out so deeply that your mind stops recording your life? This is what happened. Halfway up the mountain, I stopped noticing things. I placed one foot after the other like every zombie in every zombie flick you have seen.

If the journey up takes away all of your energy, the journey down steals your patience. I began to fast-walk, and then slow-jog down the mountain. I had become bored with my pace and also competitive. It gets old, watching person after person overtake you. I also wanted to feel fit.

When my knee cracked back and I heard that pop, I fell down and wailed like a heartbroken actor in a Telenovella.

OK like this, only less dignified.

OK like this, only less dignified.

My poor limb. First, it had been ravaged by the spider mites on my herb patch, making it scar so much that I look like I’m wearing polka dotted stockings, and now I had broken it. Central to my weeping was that I would not be able to dance that night. A trip to a new place is not complete for me if I haven’t jiggled my limbs to its music! I was full of despair. Somehow, I got off the mountain. Somehow, I danced. Somehow, my moves did not make my leg break clean in half.

Yea

Yea

When I got to Kampala, my first stop was a hospital in Ntinda that I have been asked to please not name. The medical insurance I have is tied to that place. With the help of my nkoni, I hobbled up the stairs right into a nightmare. I have never encountered such confusion or rudeness. I should have run right out when I saw that the doctor was wearing a tiny pink dress top leggings and strappy sandals. You guys, I work in Advertising. That is my uniform. When clients see me, they go, Oh! This one must be full of crazy ideas. That is NOT what you want to be thinking about your doctor.

Me on a good day, You would not allow me to treat you.

Me on a good day. Don’t allow any doctor who looks like this to treat you.

Fortunately for me, she didn’t seem to have any ideas at all, good or bad and after 30 minutes of spastic, disinterested and distracted service, I was sent away with diclofenac and instructions to return for a session with the ‘sonographer’. The next day, the receptionist informed me that I would need authorization from my office to see this sonoperson. After two hours, she snappily informed me that my office hadn’t called back with the authorization. Now I know the fault wasn’t hers and reserve a big helping of side-eye for my office admin, but surely she could have let me know an hour earlier. I shook my crutch at them all and limped out of their establishment.

I eventually had my leg scanned at Span in Kisaasi, and although I am sure I left with some damaged cells thanks to being X-rayed on a naked table with no protective clothing over the rest of my body, I was happy with their service. The doctor made me feel like I was going to be OK. To distract me from the painful massage (there was a whole lot of swelling but I have been informed that it was very stupid of him to massage my fractured limb), he called me an athlete and told me stories of how basket ballers sometimes have to have their fibulas sawed entirely off.

I finally hauled my ass to a bone specialist and he’s put me in a leg brace and scared me into using my crutch more diligently, because nti I will never run again if I fool around with the healing of my limb.

I feel like an autobot.

I feel like an autobot.

One bright side is that thanks to the fracture, my body requires for me to take almost three times as many calories per day in order to heal properly. You guys August is going to be gorgeous. Fooooood!

So I inhaled a bunch of catshit.

There’s nothing more disappointing than when your body fails you. I’m not talking about the times when you fail your body by wantonly eating junk and refusing to exercise and then it protests by contracting incurable “rich man” diseases. I’m talking about your averagely fit, young-enough-to-be-alive pillar of flesh deciding that some germ is stronger than it is, and recording this failure as illness.

I am ill, disgustingly so. I am so germy that I can’t stand to be near myself. When I enter a taxi, I mentally apologize to everyone who has to breathe in my carbon dioxide. When I enter a supermarket, I try to touch as few things as I can to minimize possibility of infecting some innocent. Well, that’s when I’m not feeling malicious. You see, disease attacks your mind too.
One minute I’m feeling sad about all the people I might zombiefy by accident and the next, I’m walking with arms outstretched, trying to brush against as many healthy people as I can. They just seem so smug with their shiny cheeks and clean noses.

I’ve also been having disturbing fantasies, for example: I imagine myself marching around office and punching all the healthy people to a beat of that Tutuuse track by Ruyonga. I Imagine calmly brewing a nice cup of honey-ginger tea, smashing it against my computer and then rubbing my face in the chaos while wailing about how nobody loves me. Mostly, I’ve imagined what my funeral will be like if I die of flu and how hard my enemies will laugh.

Some people are really nice when ill. Even from their sickbeds, they radiate kindness and consideration and do all within their means to appear a-OK because they’d hate for you to worry. I’m not one of those. I want a pity party complete with chocolate muffins and get well soon cards and this time, I kind of deserve one.
This is how I got sick. Last Saturday, I walked into the garage that my little brothers have been sleeping in since it was converted into a bedroom. Nothing could have prepared me for the madness.

Because they have a lot of space, we’ve been slowly filling their bedroom up with junk. A tall, wide bookshelf leaned against one wall and not one, not two but three bicycles were leaning against the opposite wall. The shelf was overflowing with cat poo, old newspapers, old clothes, old school books, clothes bought from the green shop…all kinds of rubbish. My heart wept a tiny bead of blood that pushed it’s way through the layers of my clothes and surveyed the situation. “This just won’t do”, it said, and so I got to work.

It took an entire day of constant arrangement, sweeping, wiping, dusting, burning and gagging to get the place looking as great as it does now. Because I was dealing with things that hadn’t been touched for years, I inhaled a lot of dust and powdered cat poo. I’m now disgustingly, stickily sick.
All is however well with my soul because during this burst of motivation, I discovered many awesome books; the best of all being ‘Conversations with African writers’ by Lee Nichols. It was published in the 1980s and contains an interview with one writer from every English speaking country in Africa! Although my body is sick, my mind is blown and that is good enough for me.

All donations, (pledges of ) chocolates and get well soon messages are welcome in the comment section.

I’m mortal after all.

Being sick is like winning a lottery where the prize is a week-long vacation with breakfast in bed, assisted baths, all the food that you like, pain and humiliation. If you can manage to disregard the last two razors in the swag bag, life is pretty good when you’re sick. It’s like your birthday, only you’re in pain.

I didn’t even cry.

My nice editor rung me up and said, “You know, Mildred, you don’t have to send a Stiletto this week. We’ll understand” and I said, “Star taffa.”What will the experience of going through food poisoning, an infection and malaria at the same time be worth if I can’t share my new wisdom and make a little something in the process?

I don’t fall sick often and bed rest is never an option when I do. I’ve always boasted that my body achieved the immunity you can only get from eating kalo at least once a week from the day you were born.  This time, the one minute walk from the hospital’s reception to its lab tired me out so much that I fainted against the door of a toilet, startling a man who had neglected to lock it as he was harvesting a urine sample.

Malaria gives you hallucinations. Either that or a poltergeist is happening at my house. Also, too many drugs taken at the same time will give you superhuman powers. People have been simultaneously frightened and impressed at my ability to foretell events or sense their discomfort and call them up. Now I’m sure that I’ve only foretold things by chance and I’m not at all clairvoyant, but that’s not going to stop me from acting mysterious around my visitors.

I shall dispense my wisdom now.

Humility: You lose control of your body when you’re sick. You have to resign yourself to spoiling your pants or spilling offensive body fluids onto somebody; somebody with his or her own problems in life. Sickness and smartass are two words that do not rhyme so when they say roll over, you must short circuit your pride and roll over quickly. Thank you goes a long way.

Vigilance: If after receiving a cow-sized injection you feel like buying something pretty to make yourself feel better, do it but be careful. Double check every purchase that you make.

I didn’t do this. My usually dewy lips were cracked and painful and the cheap lip balm I’d applied was making them burn. When I spotted a Himalayas Cold Balm behind the glass of Capital Supermarket’s cosmetics section, I felt like I’d found the messiah of lips. The words cold and balm checked into my mind separately. I asked the kind attendant to give it to me, poked through the aluminum on the top and smeared my lips with a combination of eucalyptus and spearmint oil. My lips still burn when I think about it. This is when I realized that I had bought a balm that’s supposed to be applied around your nose when you have a cold and not some awesome variety of extra cool lip balm.

I proceeded to buy an expired box of juice and only realized that it was iffy after I’d downed half of it. Just double-check everything when you’re sick.

Love: it is how you love in the famine that counts. If your special person is professing love and still going back to bed and leaving you alone in hospital, consider binning them.

Stay away from babies and small animals. Seriously. I gave Daniella kamulali by mistake.