When my baby gets sick, my world stops. My brain fogs up and I cease to function … which sucks, because I have to get to hospital, fill forms, pay bills, and keep smiling so she doesn’t think she’s dying. It’s hard to do that when my hands are shaking. So, part two of my week from hell was when she got sick.

Two Saturdays ago, we went swimming, which is a blog for another day. Let’s just say there was this guy with abs and dreads, and the khanga was pink. I swear she stared as much as me.

Anyway, come Wednesday, my baby went all moody. I assumed she was overtired, but when I sent her to bed, we had words. She doesn’t like being sent to bed.

By morning, she had a fever, but no other symptoms. Since there was nothing in the bank, I figured I’d watch for a few days and see. The cheque would clear on Saturday. Surely she wouldn’t die before then. I gave her a Panadol, sent her to school and spent the day at Sheria House. There was some drama I’d been putting off, and I couldn’t concentrate anyway.

By the way, Sheria House is much better now. I started at the office, got sent to the tent, got sent back to the office, the got given a little red slip of paper which was … okay, let me just explain.

I was trying to add a name to my baby’s birth certificate. I started at Sheria House, and I was told to got to the tent at Uhuru Park. All birth certificate matters are handled there. I got there at 8.45, and there was a queue but no staff, so I did a few laps and came back at 9.15. The queues appeared and disappeared … which means people stood in line until somebody broke off, then they’d scramble to the counter until the staff struck [striked?] and made them queue again. I was given a form, which I filled , then went to the cashier. He told me to go to Counter 2.

I should mention, by the way, that the counters are just four giant half-open tents with desks in them. It’s way less stuffy than government offices. There’s plenty of good ventilation, lots of grass to sit on, vendors with sugary stuff and cold drinks, and if all else fails, you could just fall into the nearby lake .

Via localyte.com

The line to Counter 2 was really long. I mean like reeeaaaally long. And also … there were Two Counter Twos. The second one had no line at all. I decided to play dumb and try it. Yay, I was right! Except the guy talked about affidavits and said I go to Sheria House Counter 6. Sigh.

I walked back to the building queued for five minutes, and told the grumpy lady of my problem. Her response? Go back to the tent. Lord!

I went back to the tent to talk to the same guy. I know government workers can be nasty, and I wasn’t going to risk pissing him off. But he was busy so I asked the guy next to him. The guy was busy telling some old man to – yes – go back to Sheria House. The man was in tears. Apparently, he’d been going back and forth since 20th December. Poor guy.

The server guy got bored of explaining and turned his attention to me. I explained what I needed and he asked why. After all, the kid has enough names already. After some explanation, he sent me back to Guy Number 2, who was now less occupied. I once again explained my problem, including the Counter 6 issue. He smiled and said my daughter was his namesake – or rather – his daughter’s namesake. He wrote some numbers in a book in red, ripped off the bottom of my form, and told me to come back in a week. Wow! That was easy! I didn’t even pay or anything!! I pointed this out, but he just smiled and said he’d see me next week. Apparently, their policy is cash on delivery. Hm.

Back home, my baby’s fever went up, and she had skipped lunch and vomitted in school, but there were still no other symptoms. I’d heard about a yellow fever outbreak on radio, and guys on Twitter were taking vaccinations [for completely different reasons] so I started to Google for symptoms. Loss of appetite? Check. Red eyes? Check. Fever? Check. Pain in the neck and yellowing skin? We-ell, my baby’s a yellow-yellow-brown-brown, so that’s a little hard to check, but the only pain she had was in her chest. Hmm.

I gave her more Pandol and sent her to bed. The next day, still fever with no other symptoms. She managed to keep her food down, and when she slept, I heard what seemed like snoring. Except … she doesn’t snore. Morning brought a spate of coughing, so I went to the Chemist. She was given meds for fever, antihistamine, and Zinnat. The fever meds are chocolate flavoured with Indian instructions, a syringe … and a cow. Plus, according to my princess, inaonja kama pombe. The look on her face could only be rivalled by mine, and no, I didn’t taste the meds. Either way, the pharmacist bet on chlorine allergy, and the meds cost 1900. Great.

Saturday was fairly safe but Sunday morning, she woke up with a nose bleed. Nose bleeding was on the symptoms list for Yellow Fever. Can you say panic?!?

I went to the bathroom to stop myself shaking, because she could see the look on my face, and it was making her scared. She was already pretty terrified from seeing all that blood, and I was trying to remember the right first aid for nose bleeds. In primary school, they said to bend your head between your knees, and pinch your nose shut. In High School, they said to lie back, hold your nose, and put a wet cloth on your head. Which was it? I used deductive reasoning and figured lying back will get blood in your head, literally, so we did the head-forward thing. It worked!

We went to hospital and did 1.3K worth of tests. They all turned out negative. The doc said to go on with current meds, and mentioned things like crepes and spasms, though he said they were negligible. He was a pretty young doctor and he didn’t have his coat on, so I was suspicious at first. But I really like young doctors, because they answer all your questions and rarely act like a know-it-all. I guess that comes with age. The bad handwriting thing they learn early.

Anyway, after all that drama, we needed comfort food, so we splurged. Fries, kenchic, kebabs, sandwich ham [and sandwich beef] Kitkat, Cadburys, Sausages, Maryland, and Fanta pineapple. The baby isn’t an eater and my appetite is legendary so … well … she did eat five cookies … and carried leftover chicken for lunch.

Three days later, she’s fine, the meds are gone, and we’re 5K weaker, but it’s all good, because money grows on trees . It’s made of paper … or cotton … and gold pours out of the ground. Oil and diamonds too. You should have seen the look on her face as I explained that trees make paper. She was scandalized!

Anyway, she’s fine now, so it’s back to daily drama. We were working on homework when she broke her sharpener and was trying to get the blade out. The screw was pretty small, so I tried to pry it out with a jagged piece of plastic. My baby saw what I was doing and said: ‘Mami, wewe ni mnoma!’ I guess the idea of improvised screwdrivers hadn’t ocurred to her yet.


The pride in her voice was evident, and I glowed for about ten minutes before I gave up on the plastic and we bought a new sharpener. After all, they cost just five bob.

Some days, I feel completely lost and insecure. I wonder if I’m doing right by my girl, or if I’m screwing her up and scarring her for life. I feel criticism everywhere, and it gets hard to stay objective. I wonder if she’s happy, or if her loyalty is based on Maryland cookies. Plus, I was so stressed I clean forgot about that PTA meeting. Crap!

But then, every once in a while, she says stuff like she did today, and my heart melts. Then in the morning, when it’s cold and dark and she’s getting on the school bus after breakfast, she smiles at me and waves until the bus is out of sight. That has to be the coolest part of my day.

I love you Princess. You’re the queen of my heart.

21 thoughts on “Seeing red and other stories

  1. I’m still choking at the Yellow Fever bit! No. I’m gasping for breath! We never know whether we are doing right by our babies but pretending to be objective for one second, I’ll say, they think the world of us. That’s all you need to know. Keep doing what you do, pray once in a while and look into her eyes every time you are in doubt. You will love what is reflected in there.

  2. LOL @ ‘inaonja kama pombe’. that dawa looked suspect. a cow, and chocolate and paracetamol are just not a combination that springs to mind when you think ‘medicine’ Glad she is feeling better. I’m sure you’re great mum. The fact that you worry if you are doing right by her is indication enough.

  3. I know! I saw the cow and I was like haiya! And then i saw the syringe and I was like ooookkkkkkaaaaay. But at least the fever is gone…

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