Unless you actually know me or perhaps follow me on snapchat, you may not be completely familiar with the fact that I’m someone who finds it very difficult to be open and vulnerable. This is something I’ve mentioned a few times on snapchat when I’ve kind of been in my feelings, and also during times when I’ve been quiet on all my social media platforms for a while, without any explanation other than, “I just needed to be and I can’t really explain why in full detail because I’m not about to open up and let strangers into my personal life or share my vulnerabilities with people I don’t necessarily trust because I don’t know you!”
I mean, I do share some things, but not everything. What I choose to share online is only scratching the surface of what’s really going on with me and in my life. I’ve always debated how much someone like myself who is active on social media, should share. How much is enough to establish a connection with my followers without giving away too much since y’all ain’t even my friends and family, and I struggle to even share with them, let alone strangers online.
Some of you may remember me being on a BBC1 Documentary called “Britain’s Secret Spenders” a couple of years ago. That was such a huge moment for me as I was sharing some very personal aspects of my life and the struggles I was going through at the time to practically the whole of the UK. I remember the night it aired and I literally wanted the ground to open up and swallow me. I didn’t know what to expect or how the public would perceive me, but I was so overwhelmed by the support and encouragement I received from so many people. People who resonated with my story and felt inspired. It was this moment that showed that it is okay to be vulnerable and open at times because you never know how your experience can positively impact someone else.
With all that said, here I am, back in my cocoon of “I don’t like being vulnerable and open”, “I don’t like asking for help”, “I have trust issues”, “I don’t want to let my walls down.”
I’m also very hard on myself and understand that growth takes time. Being vulnerable is a huge obstacle in my life that I’ve learnt to comfortably carry with me instead of actually trying to overcome it. How many obstacles do we have in our lives that we just choose to pick up and carry with us as if it’s just who we are, instead of putting it down, jumping over it, and leaving it behind as we continue our journey through life with one less thing to weigh us down or hold us back?
Well I’m finally trying. I’m making the conscious effort to let go of my fear of being vulnerable and finding a way to jump over this obstacle in my life that is not only keeping me from having deeper, more meaningful relationships with others, but also not allowing others to develop a deep, meaningful relationships with me; and these ‘others’ include the 3 Fs in my life; family, friends and followers.
So being someone who finds it easier to communicate via writing than speaking, I’ll be breaking down my walls, brick by brick through more wordy blog posts such as this one. Make sure you’re subscribed to my blog while you’re here, simply hit subscribe to never miss a post. Take a moment to do that now if you haven’t done so already, the go make yourself something to drink, grab a snack and get comfortable. I’m opening up…
Let me take you guys back to a few weeks ago when my daughter (Natania) came home from school complaining that both her legs were hurting after running in athletics. We both assumed it was just the usual muscle pain you get after working out and didn’t really think anything more of it. After all she hadn’t done any athletics in a year and it was her first day back on the tracks, plus she did mention that she didn’t warm up before or warm down after. A few days go by and she continues to complain about this pain, but now it’s no longer in her left leg, only her right leg, and the pain is in very specific areas at the top part of her leg, near her hip and also her lower back. She’s also beginning to slightly limp on the leg when walking.
We still didn’t think anything of it and thought maybe she had strained a muscle and it was just taking a little longer for the muscle to go back to normal. However, after a few more days went by, the pain she was feeling and her limping had increased. At this point, I decided to take her to A&E at my local hospital just to be sure that it was simply a muscle strain and nothing more. After being briefly seen by a doctor, we were informed that she may have badly strained her muscle and it can take up to 15 days for it to heal itself, and that she should take paracetamol and ibuprofen for the pain, and try not to use her leg too strenuously.
Two days later, after missing a few days of school to rest the leg, my daughter felt as though she was okay to go to school. Natania loves school, so missing those two days off school was enough for her and she was eager to go back, even though she was still in a bit of pain, still limping slightly and it was a Friday. I actually remember loving school that much too as a child. Like-mother, like-daughter! Haha!
That Friday afternoon, she returns home from school and informs me that she was very tired and the pain in her leg had increased throughout the day. She took some pain killers and fell asleep on the sofa for a couple of hours. When she woke up, she was still feeling pain and found it really painful to carry out certain movements like stand up from the sofa, sit down, lie down, and even to walk normally. However, she continued to take pain killers, and they seemed to help to relieve the pain. I didn’t quite know what else to do and just encouraged her that it’s just a muscle strain, as the doctor said, and it’s going to get better.
The following day, Saturday, my daughter wakes up in the morning and is literally completely limping and struggling to walk around the house. As the day goes on, and into the afternoon, she was unable to physically move from off the sofa without screaming in pain. While even seated on the sofa and not even moving anywhere, she was screaming and crying in pain. I just couldn’t comprehend what was going on with her. I had never seen her in so much pain. I felt so helpless and unable to do anything to stop this terrible pain that she was in.
We were running out of pain killers and I also needed to do some food shopping so I decided to quickly pop to the shops and grab a few bits. As I walked to the shops I got a very strong feeling that something wasn’t right and I began to pray…
In my prayer, I asked God, “What is going on with Natania? Lord, I need your help!” I was beginning to feel so overwhelmed by all the pain she was in and I just couldn’t understand what was happening to her and why. I really needed some guidance on what to do and I really needed God to do something. Up until this point, I was trying to brush everything over as nothing serious. I was refusing to want to believe or accept that what was happening to my daughter could be anything serious. It was just a muscle strain, she’s going to be fine, it’s not that deep; things I was telling myself because I didn’t want to face the possibility that something could really be wrong.
Why? Because I was scared. I was scared. What if it is something serious? What am I going to do? How will I cope? This is too much. I can’t… I don’t want to have to go through this. This is something a lot of us do. We try to run away from our tests not knowing that if we just face them, with God by our side, those tests are opportunities for test-imonies.
At the time, I just felt like, but this is my baby. I refused to entertain the idea of something really being wrong with her and masked it as me having faith, but in reality, I was afraid and in denial. I didn’t want to face this mountain so I resorted to pretending that it wasn’t there.
All these thoughts and revelations about what was really going on in my heart were flowing through my mind. On the way back from the shop, as I was trying to process these thoughts and feelings, a voice inside me suddenly said, “call an ambulance!”
It took 7 hours for an ambulance to arrive. During this time, my daughter was in consistent pain, unable to move. The paramedics decided it would be best to take her to A&E as they couldn’t see any visible problems with her as the pain was coming from inside her muscle. They had also assumed it was just a muscle strain, and couldn’t understand why she was screaming in so much pain. It took almost 30 minutes to get her out the house and into the ambulance as she struggled to stand up from the sofa, and walk a few steps to the front door. It was now almost midnight.
After waiting another few hours to see a doctor, she was admitted into the hospital children’s ward for further tests and investigation. The following morning, they did an X-ray and found nothing. They did a blood test and found nothing. They did a urine test and found nothing. They then did another blood test and although everything seemed normal, they could see that her white blood cells had increased, which indicated to them that something might me up, but they weren’t sure. We were then allocated a consultant who came to see us on the ward. This consultant was a God-send! Throughout this whole experience, this black female doctor fought so hard for my daughter in every aspect of her treatment and supported us so well. She was such a blessing! It would literally take a separate blog post to really go into detail about how much she helped us.
We had now been in hospital for a few days with still no explanation for what was happening to my daughter’s leg. At this point, our normal life had been put on hold. I was unable to engage in my day to day activities, do Instagram posts, be on snapchat, all the normal things you just casually do without a second thought. It was as though someone had hit a button on a remote control and my whole life was suddenly on pause. I was no longer myself. Seeing my daughter lying there in the hospital bed, weak, exhausted, in great discomfort, in so much pain, just took the life out of me. She had also lost so much weight from not being able to eat or keep food down.
The past few days in the hospital had consisted of her being given strong pain killers. Doctors just couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Our consultant decided that Natania was to have an MRI scan immediately so they can take a deeper look into her leg muscle. We had to wait till the following day for the results from the MRI Scan and what the consultant told us they had found, was something we never expected in a million years.
My daughter had a huge infection called Staphylococcus Aureus deep within the joint which connected her lower back and pelvic muscle, at the very top of her right leg. I was informed that she may need to have surgery or be on long term antibiotics, but they would need to send the MRI scan results to specialist pelvic muscle doctors at another hospital for a second opinion as to what to do to deal with the infection. The consultant also mentioned that they didn’t know how or why this bacteria or bug that had caused the infection got into my daughter’s body and decided to lodge itself deep in her muscle and create an infection; however, they were familiar with the infection and knew that it was treatable.
I was speechless. I sat there looking at the consultant like she was speaking in a different language and it wasn’t me she was talking to. It wasn’t my daughter she was talking about. It can’t be. She’s supposed to have just strained her muscle, now you’re telling me that she has a whole infection that has a whole name and she may need surgery? WHAT?!
I just couldn’t believe what I was hearing. It felt like everything that seemed to have already gone from zero to one hundred, had now suddenly gone from one hundred to a thousand!
As the consultant left, I turn over to my daughter and saw her eyes immediately water up as she burst into tears. I did the best I could to reassure her that everything was going to be okay and that she shouldn’t cry, meanwhile, I was trying so hard to hold back my own tears. I was emotionally drained. A part of me was relieved that we at least had a diagnosis, we finally knew what was wrong, and it was something that could be treated. I chose to focus on this and encouraged Natania to do the same. It could have been worse.
We spent the next 2 weeks in hospital before my daughter was well enough to be allowed home. The longest 2 weeks of our lives! I was practically living in the hospital with her, only going home to shower, change my clothes, bring Natania more clothes, cook food for her to take back to the hospital (the hospital food was not the one), while also trying to keep up with work related stuff as much as possible. Being a freelancer is not easy in situations like this because you have to rely on yourself to make ends meet. If you don’t do your part, you don’t get paid. At least when you’re employed at a job, you can book time off while someone else picks up where you left off, and you’ll probably still get paid.
I was thankful for the support I received from my close friends who came to visit us at the hospital, my daughter’s dad, who did his best to be there for her while also juggling his own life, and my mum who was a great help in coming to stay with my daughter at the hospital so that I could go home and run errands without feeling guilty for having to leave her. But I understand that as a mum, especially as a single mum, sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do to make sure that your child/children are okay. And that includes making sure that bills are paid so you still have a roof over your head.
At times, I felt like I was just in autopilot. I didn’t know what I was feeling or if I was even feeling anything at all. I had moments where I was numb. Numb to everything that was going on around me. Stuck in a bubble. Unable to be my normal self. I wasn’t my normal self. I was so caught up with everything that was happening to Natania that whenever someone asked me how I was doing, I didn’t have a clue. I didn’t know how I was doing, I was just doing… Writing this blog post, 3 weeks since my daughter has been home from hospital, is probably the first time that I’ve been able to stop and really take the time to try and process my thoughts and feelings from this whole experience.
We were so pleased to be told that Natania wouldn’t need surgery and that the strong doses of antibiotics she would be on long term (6 weeks) would be enough to fight the infection, alongside physiotherapy and crutches to support her ability to walk.
Every day in that hospital was spent hoping and praying that Natania would be well enough to be discharged home. By the second week, we were both mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted. But we kept praying, and hoping, and trusting that God was in control and that she would get better. This infection will be defeated and Natania will come through this stronger than ever!
This experience had a huge impact on my Natania’s faith and her own personal relationship with God. She was able to see God at work in her life and in her situation, for herself, in so many ways. I remember the day she turned to me as I laid next to her on the hospital chair-bed and whispered, “It was God…”, when the nurse told us that the tube that was needed to be inserted into her arm in order to give her antibiotics would normally take over 3 days to arrange, but somehow they managed to arrange it in less than 24 hours. She also told me that she could never take good health and the ability to do the smallest body movements for granted.
I don’t know how I would’ve been able to cope without my faith in God. Whatever the outcome would’ve been, I needed Him, and I can truly testify that God met me at the very point of my needs. I don’t know why He allowed this to happen, this all came out of nowhere, but I’m thankful that through it, we’ve both been able to witness His Presence in a new and awesome way… Thank You Lord, for everything!
Natania has 3 more weeks of daily antibiotics to go. She has a community nurse who comes to our home to give her the antibiotics through the tube in her arm every day. She also has weekly appointments at the hospital with her consultant along with weekly blood tests to check that the infection is going. She is also due to have physiotherapy as we were informed that it may take a while for her leg muscle to be completely back to normal again. Thankfully, she hasn’t been in much pain, and although she’s still limping slightly, she’s using the leg so much better now, and no longer needing her crutches to walk. She’s also slowly gaining back the stone in weight she lost. I told her that she needs to make a full recovery so she can use those long legs of hers to walk a runway show in New York one day and bring home the millions! Haha! I also promised her a holiday as motivation to keep fighting and to stay strong. She’ll be having another MRI scan at the end of her antibiotics treatment to review its results in effectively dealing with the infection.
Sharing this experience with you guys through this blog post has not only been a means of opening up and facing my inability to express vulnerability, it’s been a means to which I truly hope that you may find encouragement, inspiration, and the strength to keep going, despite whatever it is that you may be going through or experiencing in your life right now. Each and every one of us have our own struggles, but I truly believe that God will never give us more than what we can bear. So not matter what, keep going! Even when you feel helpless, never lo0se hope…
Although she’s only 13 (almost 14 in October), Natania loves a good bodycon dress! I really feel cheated cos when I was 13, my mum was still forcing me to wear those huge girly dresses that touched my ankles, and had frills with massive shoulder pads, to parties. Haha! Nowadays, these kids have it so easy when it comes to fashion & style. Anywho, we decided to get all dolled up one afternoon and took some photos in these lovely red dresses sent to us from Pretty Little Thing. We’re hoping to be doing more style-related blog posts together again, and I’ve finally convinced Natania to join me on my YouTube channel, so I’m excited to be doing more videos with her too. Stay tuned!
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