It’s a double anniversary in my family today so I think it’s a good day to tell my story. 10 years ago today, I got married to the love of my life and best friend. Exactly 9 years and 1 month later, (11 months ago), I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, our first child. Apart from the fact that she came after almost a decade of marriage, she is special because she was conceived naturally after failed fertility treatments and in spite of
medical conditions which should have made spontaneous (natural) conception impossible.
During the Caesarean section to deliver my daughter, my intestines were perforated and I developed sepsis, a life threatening infection. This infection has been known to shut down vital organs and kill within a few hours but I carried it unknowingly for 12 days before I became semi-conscious and had to be rushed back into the theatre. Over the next 8 months, dozens of doctors in several hospitals in and out of Nigeria, battled to save my life. I had 5 additional major surgeries to repair my damaged intestines, 4 of which were emergencies and sometimes within days of each other. I took antibiotics and medication worth millions of naira to be able to subdue the infection ravaging my body. I developed an enterocutaneous fistula, a physically and psychologically draining experience; a nightmare of a condition where undigested food poured out from a hole in my stomach. I had to be hooked up to all kinds of machines and had tubes of all sorts, taking things in and out of my body. My wounds were dressed in painful sessions that took place several times a day. I could not eat or drink anything without having excruciating pain and for several months, my main source of nutrition was a special milk, fed to me through a tube in my neck. At some point, I went completely without food or water for almost 3 weeks. I lost about half of my body weight and my muscles were so wasted that I had to learn how to walk, lift and squat again. I spent time in ICU and high priority wards so that I could be closely monitored. I had to undergo several painful and invasive procedures and bear the pain of over a thousand needle pricks to draw blood or administer drugs. Prolonged hospitalisation made it difficult for even the most experienced nurses and doctors to locate viable veins in my body for drug administration. Some of my nerves were injured during the many futile attempts and this led to nerve damage. I experienced Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, severe amnesia and hallucinations. To this day, I do not remember a few days of this year and at some point, even forgot that I had given birth to a baby. Such was the severity of the trauma that my body went through. Sometimes, I spent days in agony before any medication would work, even if very briefly. The word “pain” became tangible to me; it took on a new meaning. So much more happened and it would take several books to adequately describe everything I experienced in those months.
However before all this happened, I had noticed an increasing scepticism among young Nigerians especially on social media. More and more people I knew were openly challenging the existence of God. Many said there was probably no God because a good and powerful God would not allow pain and suffering on earth. During one of my most difficult days this year, in the midst of indescribable pain, I found those comments playing back in my head. I wondered why the whole thing was happening. If God was there, why would He allow all this to happen to me? Why wouldn’t He stop the pain? Why had He abandoned me? What if the sceptics were right? What if there was no one up there looking out for me? What if I was completely helpless and there was no point to the whole drudgery that my life had become? I had trusted God through many years of waiting for a baby but this fresh ordeal brought so many unanswered questions. Just then as I was down in the pit of despair, several things started to happen at the same time. Loved ones came with reminders and assurances that made the load so much easier to bear and my body strangely started responding to treatment. Even when things got worse again and again, I would somehow pull through. It became obvious to me, my family and my doctors that even though things were bad, there was an unseen hand preventing my death. This realisation gave me renewed confidence that even though the night seemed very dark, I would make it to dawn. At every point in time during the long months in different hospitals, my journey astounded the doctors. There were times that I was so critical that they would later confess to me that they did not expect me to survive beyond 24 hours. Others said if I survived, my organs, especially the heart and kidneys, would be wrecked. Muslim and Christian doctors alike exclaimed how that God was on my side and many dared to use the word ‘miracle’ to describe my case, because going by their professional judgement, I should have been dead many times over.
I must say at this point that it’s incredibly important to be careful of what we listen to because words, no matter how casual, are seeds which can sprout if the conditions are favourable. I had heard and read the cynical comments about God repeatedly over the past few years. I of course did not agree with them. However, my mind in deep despondency became a fertile soil for those seeds to germinate into doubtful thoughts. I do not by any means, have all the answers to the issues of life, but I am fully convinced and reassured that the sceptics are wrong and that there is a God that rules and reigns in the affairs of men and His jurisdiction is far beyond the realms of science and logic. As far as this statement is concerned, I am a living testimony.
So today, I’m grateful to the King of Kings, the one who kept us this past 10 years, filling our home with peace and laughter in spite of the pressures that waiting for a baby brings; the one who gave us a miracle child who brings smiles to our faces and warms our hearts everyday. The one who was there with me through the fire and through the storm and was the reason that I did not lose everything. The one whose marvellous works astound seasoned physicians; the one who still works miracles. In all of this, no one can take His role, no one can share His glory.
Today, I am stable, increasing in strength and well on my way to making a full recovery. Contrary to what my doctors had feared, my organs are also working excellently.
I’m grateful for the priceless people God gave to me as family and friends. Words fail me to describe the extent of their love and sacrifices, without which I would never have made it through. My amazing, loving and dependable husband for every single day of the past ten years. My sweet mother, the devoted, tireless nurse who gave 100% of herself and her substance. My kind mother in-law for her calls, visits, sacrifice and love. My wonderful sister, the relentless prayer warrior, giver and encourager. My awesome and supportive brothers who refused to give up on me and whose presence and sacrifices taught me the true meaning of family. My awesome sisters in- law, dependable and devoted mothers to my daughter when I didn’t have the physical strength to even carry her. My dear brothers in-law who were my physicians from afar, liaising with my doctors to make sure I got the best care. My sweet nieces and nephews whose visits and prayers warmed my heart. My in – laws, cousins, aunts, uncles, medical personnel, care givers and friends, some of whom I had not seen for decades, for their generous gifts, encouragement and prayers. To all these and numerous others across the world, some of whom have never met me, yet formed a prayer chain to intercede for me, day and night, I say a big THANK YOU! May God reward everyone of you and may you never lack help when you need it.
The next time someone tells me that by virtue of logic and common sense, there is no God, I will not keep quiet. I will tell them that I have a baby and a new lease of life that logic simply cannot explain.