Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My "death thing" that made me count my blessing


I hate doing memes. I even promised myself that I won’t do it anymore because it makes me feel very self centered. Yet at times I think it could be a good-to-now prevalence even more, for me, a way to reminisce the experience and the lesson I learned from it. You know why? Because I keep on forgetting to count my blessings or the goodness around me and whine about things that I have no control over. So you can stick around and read about it or you can ignore me, after all what do I know and who maked me the advisor about life.
It was in February of 2009 at our home in Addis, I love walking bare foot which wasn’t a very good idea especially on that day because I stepped on a nail that was jutting out a wood stick which I was not aware was laying there. I pulled it out, no blood and no pain but you know what that is right? If you get pricked by a sharp object and if it bleeds it is good but if it does not then it is bad and you have to get a tetanus injection. I went to a clinic – email me if you need the name just in case you want to sue them on behalf of me – to get the shot. So what they normally do is, they make a fairly small circle on the forearm and give you a test shot and if it swells further than the circle then you are allergic to it; if it doesn’t you will get the proper dose. I think the nurse’s orientation for geometry was crappy or she must have missed the class in her nursing school years which apparently was about how big or small the doze or the circle should be, I was allergy free and got my shot and went home.
The next morning I woke up with itching at the back of my neck and ears - I can still feel it. So we decide to go to the clinic where I got my tetanus shot and show them what had happened. The doctor said I was allergic to the tetanus so wrote me prescription to get another shot for the allergy; I went to the merfae kifel and started waiting for my much-loved killer. I waited for around 15 minutes - no one showed up by then the itching has gotten worse and the blemish was all over my neck, shoulder and chest ; it was becoming so unbearable. The doctor saw me when he passed by the merfae kifel and was surprised that I was still there.He then went to call the nurses whom I was hearing giggling and laughing in a room at the end of the hall. They came with such distaste look on their face, the why-did-you-interrupt us look. I got the shot which I really didn't know what it was mixed out of but paid 60 birr for it. She told me, with a queen of England tone, that I would feel dizzy for a while and that I have to rest.
I went home to rest, as told; any way where would I go? I looked like Quasimodo. The itching did not get better instead it got worse. I was surrounded my friends and family who were trying to make me forget the insanely excruciating itch. They used all the psychologically calming words that are available in the Amharic vocabulary አይዞሽ፣ይተውሻል፣አታዳምጭው፣ወሬ አውሪበት ፣ ጨርሶ እስኪወጣ ነው እንጂ ይጠፋል. By the way, without exaggeration and with full confident, I am one of those patients who are obediently non-complaining and easy to handle types who actually make fun of the pain so they were mislead about strength and the severity of the allergy. Now my whole body was itching even my foot sole was itching – that is so ughhh I can’t even describe it.

Tadeos called, he is a friend of mine, a doctor (my angel in disguise); who has been calling throughout the day to check up on me but was not lucky enough to hear a good news from the other end of the phone line. He told me with worried but calming voice that if I have trouble swallowing I have to go to the doctor (ER) immediately. It was not even an a hour later when I started having trouble swallowing and breathing and when all the comforting words stopped having any effect on me. My entire body was covered with red swollen blotches. I got dressed in water soaked shema cloth because I was so exhausted from scratching every inch of my body and hopped-in my mom’s old half alive car and off to some hospital by Bisrat Gebreal. Fortunately there weren’t many people, so we were able to finish my registration quick enough to be seen by the Doctor.
The doctor, who was very soft spoken, full figured and gentle person, started his examination with comforting words. He asked me why I waited this long to come to the hospital and I told him about the whole incident and my personal Adolf Hitler who gave me the shot. He could not believe that I actually got the anti allergy shot. He was sitting across the desk when he asked me if he could give me the shot at that moment and keep me in the observation room, I said ok ; my mom ,who has been with me in the examination  room, agreed too. He asked me to show him my tongue which I did but for some reason I felt my mouth was full when I tried to pull my tongue back. I tried to swallow a couple of times but I could not. I touched my face and mouth but was not sure what I was feeling .I felt like something was holding my head backwards against the wall that is behind the chair I am sitting suddenly my hands dropped on my lap and I was not able to lift them up. I did not know what was happening to me, I struggled and said “ምን እየሆንኩኝ ነው ?”. I saw the doctor rush to where I was sitting and my mom standing in front of me in tears. She kept calling my name “እማዩ እማዩ ወይ ልጄ” I wanted to tell her that I am ok but I could not. I struggled to keep my eyes open and fight off whatever is happening to me. I am normally ትቢተኛ ነገር so that helped for a while but finally I gave up ,everything went dark .The last word I heard was that of my mom's tearful voice “ዶክተር በቃ እንዲህ ነው ? ልጄ የምትሞተው በቃ እንዲህ ነው በቃ በቃ”
I felt I was trapped in a very small space because I could see my own body like a coffin. I was not thinking of death I was not thinking of not going back, I was not thinking about how I would miss life or that I had a lot to do or achieve. I am not sure if I was thinking at all because thinking is that of the flesh not the soul.But all of a sudden I was showered with questions, these questions were all inward it’s first strike was “…how many people have you disappointed and have asked for apology?” it came in as whisper but with a commanding and demanding tone I tried to count but before I answered the second question came “...Have you told your mom that you love her and that you are grateful of what she has done for you?” I again tried to come up with the answer but it seems like this voice knows what I am about to say and made me feel that it was not the right answer or to the right extent making me incapable to put that in words .Before I even try to utter the third one followed “…have you been there for those who needed you?” At that point I just gave up because I can feel the extent of the answer that was expected from me for none of which I had  answers to, felt so weak and helpless. Then suddenly I felt some pushing energy.If you ask me I would say if buoyancy force is to be experienced from inside the body that is what it would feel like.
All I see in front of me is a checkered light green and white shirt and hear the crying call of my mom and the Doctor .As soon as he saw me open my eyes he lifted me like a small baby and off to the IV room ; my mom following him says “እረ ዶክተር አትችላትም !!!”, taking my generous weight into consideration. The whole “death thing” took 15 minutes. I had anaphylactic shock some say it is a miracle that I revived from that.
 See death comes with no warning and no signal it is a second away and always following us where ever we go and we don’t even know about it. Completely unaware and carelessly we live, at least I do. But when that helpless moment comes all the feeling of invincibility and toughness will go away and you would face you and that voice that peeps-in once in a while and which we normally manage to ignore, that voice will stand there on the witness stand saying “I have warned you”.
It might not make sense when I say this but all I want to say is that it is always good to be on the un-guilty side and at least try to make every moment of one’s life un-regrettable by living in peace with all - at least try. Appreciate what you have and don’t whine about what you don’t. Frequently express your admiration, love and respect to the people that are close to your heart because you don’t know when you will stop being able to do so .Cherish the moment no matter how boring it is. Be so true to yourself no matter how much you might hate it and be forgiving no matter how much some people don’t deserve it - at least I feel the same  thing about some people but I force myself not to hate them and remember that they will have their moments with their inner voice too. Any way I better stop my Dr.Phil preaching here or I could go on forever.
So that is it!!!, my “death thing” experience that really made me count my blessing .I thank my God that I am still alive.

Now I have revised it so I think it will last me for the next whatever months.


  1. Mahi, that was a beautiful piece . You are quite a story teller, I must say. It is good that we are reminded of our blessings and taking the initiative to recognize those that made those blessings possible. Thank you for sharing it.

  2. its touching I almost died off anti-tetanus shots when I was forth grader.

    any ways its good to be alive and tell your story.


  3. I didnt mean to make it anonymous I am Tesfahun Derbew

  4. Is this a real story or fiction mahlet?