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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

My 3am Bread and Akara Meal


It started as a dull ache/pain/throb on one side of my big toe. My elasticity for pain is quite high. Pain is welcome, to an extent. It means I’m human. I thought it’d go away by itself. It didn’t. A few days later, I probed it, something came out. I’m my mother’s daughter. We try to sort things out by ourselves before bothering others. I applied pressure till it bled out. It was beginning to seem like a wound. I rationalized that I probably hit it against something. I wasn’t unable to walk so, life went on. It went on until I realized that 3 weeks after, this wound hadn’t healed. There was a progressive blackening around the edges too.

Was I diabetic and didn’t even know it? I had heard stories of how people would have small wounds which would continue to expand and ended up having to amputate a part of their bodies..sometimes because of undiagnosed diabetes…and in other cases, they’d have known

Was I about to die?

Why hadn’t this small and simple wound healed in 3 weeks?

 I figured it was a good time to head to the clinic and I did. First prognosis had me taking a tetanus shot and directions to take antibiotics for a few days. 2 days later, nothing seemed to have changed so back to the clinic I went. 2nd prognosis, by a different doctor, saw me ending up with a toe-nail-removal procedure. It was an ingrown nail and that was the best solution according to him. My first instinct was, “thank God, it’s not diabetes….take the damn nail out so that I don’t have to take a toe out!”. 

I won’t bore you with how I felt during the procedure or how I already made a mental list of possible surrogates for when I am ready for child bearing. This list was inspired by the pain I was feeling. When all was done, the moment of vanity stepped in:

Oh, that was my finer toe!

Will it grow back?

How long will it take?

Will it grow back normally?

Can I walk? Bla bla bla bla

Doctor assured me it’d grow back….he said in 3weeks. In retrospect now, this is funny.
I had it dressed and again, life went on. Or so I thought until I needed to dress up to go to the gym and realized that there was no way I could wear my sneakers. Until I turned an acrobat, trying to take a bath without getting the toe wet. One leg on the wall, balance on the other leg…scrub….twist to scoop water, pour carefully…..all day every day. Until I started balking at having to take night showers because of the logistics of not getting the toe wet. Until I realized how slim my options were in footwear choices. Until the thoughts of risking being stepped on alone was enough to induce migraine-like headaches. Mundane things that I had always taken for granted.

A few days after, punishment-glutton that I am, I went on Google to see what I could find. I ended up depressed. The regrowth of the nail is not a given. Its proper regrowth is definitely also not a given. Did my doctor mention 3 weeks?  LOL…. Most information online said 1 year for full regrowth. 

I felt depressed.  You know those dresses you wear knowing fully well that the look isn’t complete until you slip on a pair of nice close-toed pumps? Well, according to Google, I have to re-orient myself to completing them with open-toe flatees. I haven’t been to the gym and if Google is to go by, I may not be going for a while. Fear of infection nko? Realest.

Yesterday afternoon, I saw a lady. Probably just coming back from work. Nice shirt, nice skirt….lovely black pumps. I envied her! I envied her not because she has a job, but because she can choose to wear those shoes. 

And then, Jos happened!

I woke up to a throbbing toe in the night. I probably hit it against something in my sleep or not. Whatever it was, it was a reminder of my mortality. While I cradled my throbbing toe at 3am, I was grateful. I was grateful for the pain. I apologized a bit about my vanity because while I have a chance at the regrowth of my toe nail, over 100 lives lost their chances at life in that market at Jos. While I have a chance at re-growth of the nail, however imperfect as compared to what it used to be, 200 girls might be losing hope at getting anything close to what their lives were before being kidnapped. I'm sure many of them would have gladly taken my "nailess" toe over being blown to smithereens or hacked like wood to death or kidnapped

The 3am wake-up-to-a-throbbing-toe helped me put things in perspective, a little.
I cant walk into Sambisa to get the girls.
I cant face Boko Haram.
But I can use my discomfort/vanity/pain/fear as a point of contact…for those girls….for the families of the deceased….for Nigeria…..for us.......and say a prayer each chance I get.

And beseech you to do the same.

Because while a part of me, s’ope temi (I give thanks for me), and another part of me is still vainly worrying about the regrowth of the nail, there’s still a part of me that remembers that we all are oku to’n sunkun oku (the dead weeping for the dead).

Jos can easily be Lagos in the blink of an eye...or Ibadan...or Port Harcourt.

I have no more words, really.

*plays Asa's Fire on the Mountain till fade*


  1. Sigh..
    We sha need to investigate that toe

  2. Funny thing is that someone said the same exact thing to me this morning about how Jos could have been Lagos or Port-Harcourt. I fear where these killings are heading oh. It is well....
    Erm, about your toe, sowie it might not grow back as soon as you had hoped...but y do Nigerian doctors lie or say things non-chalantly. That's how people die because of their stupidity! Me i always check WebMD before i go to the doctor just in case they give me false prognosis!

  3. Hmmm, very touching piece . Using your pain to connect with others...

  4. I absolutely agree with your last sentence. This bombings is closer than we think and the whole situation is just depressing. Sorry about your toe!

  5. The attacks are really sad and nowhere is truly immune.. We pray daily for God's comfort for th bereaved families and intervention in our nation..
    How's the toe? xx

  6. Ah my dear we thank God for perspective

  7. Sigh. I'm just scared and trying to not let the fear numb me

  8. In-growing-nail caused so much pain in you as in-growing strife brings so much destruction. LORD continue to have mercy upon the Nation. AMen.

  9. Pele about your toe...life in Nigeria sucks right now and we all pray things get better.

  10. I am suspecting that nail sha,it doesn't want you to be great! God pass am o! We really should be grateful to God for the privilege to complain,only the living can do that.

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  12. You truly put things in perspective. Some of us have to deal with minor inconveniences and we complain about them. But what about those who have experienced tragedies so great, that healing will require more than 3 weeks. Nice one HD.

  13. I guess in every situation we just have to be thankful because it could in fact be worse + no matter your circumstance, someone out there somewhere has it much worse than you and even wish to be on your situation rather than theirs. Very insightful post i hope your nail has re-grown.

  14. blessings....
    whatever it takes to get you there is all that matters.
    You have feet you can walk
    You have health
    You have strength, even to complaint
    its all a blessing.


  15. I'm sorry about your toe nail but I'm highly glad you put things in perspective... too many times, we fret over our little problems forgetting that they are people with worse fate.

    I believe Nigeria would be peaceful oneday.

  16. Lol, There I was thinking I was going to read a tale of hunger pangs waking you up at 3 am and bread and akara burger delivering you from hunger. Has your toenail grown back nicely?

    Perspective... Is the glass half full or half empty or does it simply contain delicious pineapple juice.

    I sincerely appreciate how you were able to overlook your own issue and use your pain as a point of contact to others.

    Indeed, Jos could have happened anywhere else. We should empathize with the less fortunate because we truly cannot afford to live with the mindset of aloofness to other people's trauma, or else it will surprise us if the ugliness starts to creep into our seemingly ugly-proof bubble.

    PS: Thank you so much for stopping by my blog, your comments were absolutely wonderful. :-)

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