Take a walk with me
This life changing experience started when I was a freshman in college. Everything was seemingly going on as planned, or so I thought until something way bigger than I had imagined occurred and turned my life around. I went home for the weekend to spend sometime with my family. Just as I was about leaving the house the Water Corporation tanker came up to the house to supply water. The way it worked was we would bring out empty barrels and they would fill it up with water and we carry them back into the house. I figured it was one more thing to do before leaving the house so I decided to help my folks in filling the empty water barrels.
I was almost done, when I slipped and landed on my right knee, just by the barrel of water inside the house. I immediately felt excruciating pains shoot up my body and I screamed out for help. My dad ran towards me, coming to my rescue. He had a friend visiting at that time and they helped me up; but I couldn't stand, at least not until the pain had reduced. They helped rub the affected area and gave me pain reliever. The pain subsided after a while and I felt I was okay to return to school.
I returned to school that day; little did I know that was the beginning of a new phase in my life, one that would change my life forever. The pains continued for a while, until one day I couldn't get up from the bed. I was taken home by a friend and rushed to the hospital. The doctor said due to the fall, I had a blood clot and they had drain out the blood. They did and I returned to school, with a wound that needed to be dressed every other day and drugs to relieve the pain. The condition started deteriorating and I had to go back home.
On my arrival at the hospital, I was aked to do an xray and advised to allow the doctors drain blood, since the xray revealed that blood clot still existed. When I wasn’t responding to treatments, I was referred to The National Orthopedic hospital, Igbobi and was told that I had to amputate the limb, since I had been diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma (a cancerous malignant bone tumor). Well, no one knew what prompted the growth, but some doctors claimed, it might have been due to the trauma of the fall.
I had refused to yield to their advice, since it just didn't make any sense to me. So, I kept taking drus to relieve the pain and kept dressing the wounds (from the second drainage). After so much had been spent spiritually, physically, emotionally and financially; I knew I had gotten to the point where I had to give in to the doctor’s advice, or die. Finally, I gave.
The reality that I had to amputate my limb didn't hit me; until I saw a close relative react to the news. Thoughts of continuing my education, my career path and child bearing were just a few of my worries.
Here I was, lost in my thoughts, wondering what I could have possibly done wrong to God to deserve such a gruesome punishment. I started thinking about what the rest of my life would look like with one limb. At almost twenty years old I had barely started living my life and then this happens. One thing that however never crossed my mind was to doubt God's love for me and I am serious about this. I don't know how that happened, it just did. What however bothered me was how my folks were expected to handle the news; being an only child. I kept mustering energy for myself, especially when I realised how much it affected them tremendously.
It took me over six months or thereabout to decide on amputating my limb, simply because I couldn't come to terms with it. But when it did happen, I feltt so relieved. I didn't feel pains, I felt lighter. The very first day I got out of the bed to walk was so strange. I thought I was about to fall, I obviously had lost my balance at this point; but momentarily, it felt so good to be out of bed.
I loved the book of psalms a lot. I loved reading psalm twenty-seven and psalm thirty-nine verses eighteen and nineteen; “The Lord is nigh unto then that are of a broken heart and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the Lord delivereth him out of them all”.
I think back now to that fateful day when my leg was amputated and it all seem so fresh in my memory. I was wheeled into the theatre to prep for surgery (I remember vividly because it was the weekend the Late Yemi Tella and his dream team won the 2007 U17 world cup) and the doctors had to send me back to the ward. They weren’t sure they could bring me back to consciousness due to the low level of my blood. I was so angry because I just wanted to get this stage over and done with. I had to take three pints of blood that night in preparation for Saturday 4th February 2006. The next day when I woke up, I prayed and was wheeled away.
I remember the operating room; wow it looked like a butcher’s shop. It had so many shinny instruments, and I remember my doctors saying “don’t worry, you would be just fine”. I should say at this point that my dad was retired from civil service and my mom’s business had just gone through tough times, so yes, finance was some sort of an issue. My dad had to literally live in the car for a little while because the hospital was outside where we lived and we didn’t have family that he could put up with. That was such a sad experience for me.
My mom and I hadn’t seen each other in a while primarily because she was battling her own health issues and also coming to terms with this depressing news that her only child was going to have to lose a limb. Finally I had my limb amputated. What an experience that was and still is. The whole experience was like a bad dream to me. The seemingly lonely nights and the days when I had to struggle with how I was going to face the world. Some other days I was swamped with the thoughts of how well my folks were handling this development. Somehow, I found myself surrounded by great people that kept reminding me of life even after this. They showed love, an unlimited measure of love.
I didn't have to undergo physical therapy; especially since I wasn't ready for a prosthetic limb yet, but when the time was right (about two years later) I had to learn the skill of owing a prosthetic limb. Members of my campus fellowship also helped me a lot of phone calls, text messages and a few of them visited.
After the first pout of chemotherapy, I knew I was in an experience of a lifetime. I knew at some point that I was going to lose my hair, but I had no clue my hair would decide to fall off on my birthday. Up until this point I was dealing with all of these calmly but when my hair started falling off I broke down. I cried bitterly. I was going bald on both sides of my head and kept wondering how I would disguise my look on my birthday. Somehow, I managed to re-arrange my hairstyle in a center pat to cover both sides, which worked just fine. My friends, colleagues and hall mates had organized a surprise birthday, it was one of the best I have ever had. It was so much fun in the hospital, the faces I hadn’t seen in years, the food and drinks, wow!!!
The next few weeks were gruesome. I had become so lean and my skin color had turned extremely dark. I was always nauseous and had lost my appetite. I guess I found some amusement in Hollywood gossip, which was how I got through a lot of the dull days.
After I got better I retuned to school with the help of my Dad persuading me that I could really do it. Turned out to be a miracle because I got the best result ever in my five-year course; regardless of the fact that I hadn’t attended any lectures. This is nothing but God for which I am eternally grateful.
The weeks, months and years that followed have been interesting. Some days I am so angry with people-what they say, how they react; some days I love it, well because it opens doors in the most unusual places. Like jumping a long queue for instance (big grin)
On some other days I am just blank and emotionless. Now, I know for a certainty that regardless of whatever explanations may be proferred in explaining all that happened, God knew about it, l et it happen; because He was certain that I could still function effectively even with it. I have stopped asking the question 'why me', though sometimes it comes to my mind; but I focus my attention on other things. Most days I try to remain energetic, optimistic and resilient but the truth is on other days I just miss my limb.
Without a shadow of doubt, I have seen and experienced God’s love, grace, favor and power. How do you share a story about getting a prosthetic limb from oversees, all expense paid; every single bit of the last currency required was totally paid for. I do not need any soothsayer or pastor to reiterate that what some people (including myself) thought was for bad, have turned out and is still turning out to for good. Now for whatever reasons, my experience can be shared with others and applied relatively in encouraging people.
We always fail as humans when we believe that the decision to ‘dust oneself up and try again’ is instantaneous and a once in a life time decision. No, it’s not. It is a constant effort for the moment and for each and every passing day. We must regularly confess our weaknesses, shortcomings, and fainting moments and approach God’s throne boldly and ask for mercy and grace.
Imagine been so ill and your ‘family and friends’ just fade and resurface after the storm is a lot calmer. Now what do you do to people like that, other than forgiving them? This experience has brought me close with people I have always known, but never talked to. People who stood by me through thick and thin, who were there every step of the way and even helped tremendously in the area of finance. This only reaffirms that in moments like this, the only and best option is to hold on tight to God and be open, because you never know where that help would come from.
Challenges would definitely come; even Jesus had His own share of daily obstacles. I know for certain that I am not where God has predestined that I will be yet, but I am on a journey there and I am so sure that I would get there. In one of my lowest moments and in one of my most vulnerable state, I have resolved to let go of the past by sharing my experience of strength.
It’s been six years now and I look back with some sense of a higher purpose when I think back on all the great opportunities that have happened because of this experience. Six beautiful years of ceaseless opportunities, open doors, fighting to keep my head up and forging ahead. Waking up everyday with renewed determination to conquer against all odds. It’s all been because of God’s grace and I am so grateful that through it all he has remained faithful. Life is a constant struggle; learn to live each day like it’s the last, because you do not want regrets for not living the previous day like you hoped you had.
Written by Adenike Oyetunde
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