In the likely event of a stressor..

Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s  burdens, and in this way you fulfill the law of Christ.”

 


Recently, I had all four of my wisdom teeth extracted. Reason? They were impacted and had been the source of recurrent infections for about a year now. Frankly, this procedure had been long overdue, and I was just happy to have finally gone through it.

The first four days after the procedure was done were no walk in the park. My jaws were aching, my throat was sore, one of my cheeks was swollen and all I’d been able to consume included, and was in fact limited to: porridge, soups and ice cream. I was starving!

All the while, I was  blessed to have caring and supportive people around me who attempted to cater to my slightest of needs and tried their level best to make the whole thing a tad less miserable. These people lightened the mood and were comfortable enough to make silly jokes about my fat face…my face was really fat ha! Like Greg family guy fat. Look him up. They knew just how to calm my nerves and most importantly restored some form of normalcy to whole thing.

Well, this was merely just another dental procedure and certainly not the worst thing to have ever happened to anybody. Sometimes though, life can happen. Life can really happen. Life can hit you with the loss of a loved one, a major illness, the loss of a job, a personal injury, a breakup; the list is endless.

Life is unpredictable. That I’m sure you know. In fact, nothing is certain but death and taxes. In the LIKELY event of a life stressor, you know when life decides to happen, the right company goes a long way.  The right company might be what gets you to the next hour or day and might even help you cope with the stressor. The physician never healed himself. No man is an island. We need each other.

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I’m not a fan of lists, and quite frankly I wouldn’t encourage you to criticize or evaluate someone based on one. However, should life throw a nasty plot twist at you or should you find yourself feeling down in the dumps for whatever reason, the type of people you surround yourself with matter a lot. I personally, find the following types of people the most encouraging to be around:

1. People who I can read the bible and pray with.

In hard times, my biggest comfort is prayer and God’s word. Prayer can be very uplifting in tough times and the Bible provides so much inspiration and strength to cope with hard times. It’s so refreshing to have a friend or partner who in such times is able to take time to do this with me. To just lay my burdens at His feet and find encouragement in God’s word.

2. People I can freely open up to.

It is said that a problem shared is a problem half solved. I find it very lightening in tough times, to be able to talk to someone about what I’m feeling. Not just anybody, but someone who will listen to me without judging me and whom I can trust. When someone is really truly heard and another person really truly listens, that’s when real healing can occur. Never underestimate the power of a listening ear.

3. Someone who can be truthful with me.

A contrast to number 2; there are times when I need someone who will not shy away from telling me the painful truth. Someone who will be completely honest with me without fear or favor, for example if I’m wallowing in the victim role for too long as is often the case in misfortune. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.”

4. Positive people.

Make a conscious effort to surround yourself with positive, nourishing and uplifting people. These people will help you clear the negativity that might be surrounding you at the moment, and will help you create more room to welcome renewed positive energy.

5. People with a good sense of humor.

I have been accused of having the worst sense of humor. No comment. 😉 But I do not take lightly the ability to enjoy a good joke here and there especially when there is very little to laugh about. Laughter heals us both physically and emotionally and should be maintained at all costs in tough times.

6. People who can be selfless.

As selfish as this sounds, sometimes we need to put ourselves first, and we need someone who can selflessly do the same for us. Not because of any narcissistic reason, but simply because we are at our most vulnerable and need all the TLC we can afford. Having an individual who can lovingly and willingly do this is priceless.

Having even just one if these types of people listed, can do you all the good you need to get back on your feet. This list is in no way conclusive or exhaustive. There are so many other individuals who come through for us in tough times, who I might have forgotten to mention. What would you add or remove from this list?

“A meaningful life is not being rich, being popular, being highly educated or being perfect. It is about being real, being humble, being strong and being able to share ourselves and touch the lives of others. It is only then that we could have a full, happy and contented life.”


Sincerly, Maggie.

 

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Let’s talk…

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“Today we are going to learn about HIV testing.” *class acts exited. “Everyone will get a chance to know exactly how HIV testing is done. In fact we will aaaall get tested ” *random voices in the class, “yes!” “Let’s!” Instructor continues, “and we will aaaallll share our results with the class.” Pin drop silence. Ha! The entire class literally died in that moment. Not a single word was uttered. Not a single sound was heard. The silence akin to a graveyard at midnight manifested. Why do we get like this when asked to be open about our HIV statuses? If made to face the same predicament, would you willingly share your HIV status publicly? If not, why? What if it was something else? Don’t get me wrong, testing is voluntary and you are entitled to confidentiality upon the release of your results, but why do we get like this when it comes to HIV/AIDS?  I wonder if the reaction would have been the same for diabetes testing? Arthritis? Asthma? Aren’t they all chronic diseases? Don’t you live a normal lifespan with all if you manage them well and prevent complications?

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Thankfully, many cardiac arrests were prevented when the instructor said he was only joking and wouldn’t actually make us get tested or share our results..Have you been tested?

The very first time I ever heard of HIV/AIDS was when I was in class 5. I was around 11 years of age or so. The message back then was that HIV/AIDS kills! HIV/AIDS is a monster! In fact, posters actually drew a monster and labeled it AIDS. There were slogans and posters and television ads all talking about “crush HIV/AIDS.” Does any of you remember? I recall watching one of these ads in the living room with my mother and remember the depiction of a rawboned, utterly wasted individual who eventually died and left behind a helpless family. Terrified and severely confused by the images I had just seen, I asked my mother whether “we” had HIV, in an attempt to find some consolation,” Her response, “if you are not infected, you are affected.” If you not infected you are affected. Get tested.

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Basic facts about HIV

  • HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It is a virus that attacks your immune system and hinders your body’s ability to fight off infections, making you susceptible to an array of infections.
  • If left untreated, it can take around 10 to 15 years for AIDS to develop, which is when HIV has severely damaged the immune system.
  • With early diagnosis and effective antiretroviral treatment, people with HIV can live a normal, healthy life.

Basic facts about AIDS

  • AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. A syndrome is a group of symptoms that consistently occur together or a condition characterized by a set of associated symptoms.AIDS is therefore the syndrome that results from late stage HIV.
  • AIDS is also referred to as advanced HIV infection or late-stage HIV.
  • Someone with AIDS may develop a wide range of health conditions including: pneumonia, thrush, fungal infections, TB, toxoplasmosis and cytomegalovirus.
  • There is also an increased risk of developing other life-limiting conditions, including cancer and brain illnesses.

HIV is not AIDS. HIV causes AIDS. HIV does not kill. AIDS kills. Not everyone who has HIV has AIDS. Not everyone who has HIV will get AIDS. Visit your local VCT. Get tested.

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A common joke made is that if a man tells you the number of sexual partners he has had divide that by three. If a woman tell you the number of sexual partners they have had, multiply that by three. Why? Because when it comes to all things sex, men tend to over exaggerate while women tend to under exaggerate. (Don’t crucify me for sharing a joke..lol?) Of course, this is not a hard and fast rule and doesn’t hold true for everyone. The main mode of transmission of HIV is however, through sexual intercourse. Therefore I hope this joke scares you to the VCT. You might be thinking  “oh I’m married.” Or “oh I’m single” or “or I only have one faithful partner,” my sister my brother oh, get off your ivory tower and run to the VCT!

Did you know that with today’s anti retro viral medications (ARVs), people with HIV who faithfully take their medication and live a healthy lifestyle actually have normal lifespans?
Second most common mode of transmission is from an infected mother to her child, either during or after delivery. BUT….Did you know that a HIV positive mother on ARVs, counseled correctly can give birth to a HIV negative baby and even breastfeed him/her without infecting her?(In Kenyatta National Hospital, this percentage is close to zero.) This is called prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT). Are you aware that in a couple where one is positive and the other negative, a HIV negative baby can be born without the negative partner becoming positive? Learn more from your local clinic, after you get tested.
There are other modes of transmission like needle stick injuries and blood transfusion with infected blood(this is however unlikely due to screening).Those you will learn from your local VCT when you get tested.

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Back to the initial scenario, here we are sitting in a class fill of future doctors. Young professionals who know most of what there is to know about HIV/AIDS and still very much terrified by it. Don’t tell me it’s because they don’t understand because we both know they do. So what is it? It’s a little thing called STIGMA. It is the fear of people possibly treating you differently should your results turn out to be positive. It’s the fear of judgement.Stigma, is what makes a HIV positive individual fail to disclose the results with their friends, their family,  their partner. Stigma is what makes a HIV positive individual take their ARVs from a multivitamin  bottle. It is what makes an individual opt to buy free ARVs from the “black market” because they don’t want to be seen going to the clinics to collect their FREE medicine. Stigma is what makes me and you not get tested because we are scared of what could be.Stigma comes from lack of knowledge. From ignorance backed with the fear from misunderstanding. Go get counseled and tested.

Years ago, doctors didn’t know how to handle HIV and it would ultimately result in AIDS and you would die. Years ago. When ARVs initially hit the market, they were too expensive for the common man to afford. Now, they are free (ARVs are free in all public hospitals). Once upon a time, it was not recommended for HIV positive women to get pregnant, in fact they would be sterilized because of the expected complications to both the mother and baby that would eventually lead to their demise. That was then. Now, there is PMTCT, worry not. HIV IS NOT A DEATH SENTENCE. Repeat that till it sticks. So, got get tested.

World AIDS day is on 1st December. I encourage you to be proactive about your health. Go out there and get counseled and tested. Drag your friends along. Drag your family. Take her on a date to the VCT. Make it your thing.Positive or negative, it is not a death sentence, it is a chronic disease. With the right attitude, your medication and a healthy lifestyle, you will live a normal lifespan just like anyone else. Have we not said this?

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Remember, if you’re not infected, you are affected.Happy testing!

Yours, Maggie.

Strut confidently in your unique path.

What do I fear?

I fear stagnation and lack of progress. I fear never reaching my potential and being average. I fear being forgotten…the past…yesterday’s news. I fear giving up and being passed by, going softly into that good night. I fear letting those I love down, letting myself down. I fear settling, giving in to the “that’s just the way it is” mindset. I fear dying without leaving a mark. I fear not feeling these fears anymore and just floating along.”

I remember being at a point in life where I felt like I was mark timing. I literally could not wait for my life to finally pick up and get going. I remember thinking to myself; I’m this old, still in medical school, still dependent on my mother for financial support, still have nothing to my name. I was feeling like my life was the same old: school, home, repeat, weekend, repeat. Mark. Timing.


So I told myself, “Get a job! That will sort things out” Sigh…If you live on this side of the globe, you know that securing a job with a degree is not even a guarantee, the job market is very competitive and there’s always someone one step ahead of you for that same position. A few facts about my country: More than 500,000 young graduates join the market every year and only 50,000 succeed in getting employment. 7 out of every 10 unemployed people in my country are between 18-35 years.There are so many people with degrees and diplomas who have been job hunting for years. So, if getting a job with papers was that tough, how much harder do you think it was for me without a degree or a diploma? As difficult as a blind man trying to describe color, that much I will tell you.

Unlike western societies where opportunities to earn something small avail themselves from the age of around 16, here, you could be a good 28+ and have never secured formal employment. I’m not trying to demean anyone, I am  just saying that it’s  hard out here yo!

But why was this so important to me? Why did I terribly crave this? Truth be told, I was placing myself in constant comparison with people slightly ahead of me. There were people I finished high school with who were engaged, or married. There were those who had had a few babies.There were those who had secured international jobs.There were those who had started businesses, social organizations, movements that were having such big impacts.I even had a friend who at twenty, was building her own house. True story. Though she lives somewhere in the West so I don’t think that’s a fair comparison. The list is endless, trust me. I was still carrying those big books around that same old med school. Feeling like I had been stuck in the same chapter of my life for too long!

I’m not complaining. Please don’t get me wrong. I truly feel blessed beyond measure. I truly am thankful for the far the Lord has brought me. But on the real people, sometimes peer pressure can get too real! Does anyone feel me?

Or I’m I alone on this one?

COMPARISON IS THE THIEF OF JOY. What starts out as seemingly harmless subconscious likening of other people’s lives to yours, can turn out into a source of severe depression and can give rise to an attitude of ungratefulness.

What I had forgotten is that the Bible urges us in Philippians 4:6 not to be anxious about anything, instead to take it to the Lord in prayer. Jeremiah 29:11 encourages us that God has plans to prosper us and give us a hope and a future. Psalms 23 reminds us that the Lord is our shepherd. He will guide us and lead us to the path that is for us if we trust Him and let Him.

We all have our unique paths in life. Although our paths may collide with other people’s paths briefly in various seasons, we must remember to forget to compare ourselves with anyone who crosses our path. God made you for a purpose that is uniquely yours.

The trick is to fix your eyes on Him and trust that He will lead you right where He wants you to be. Best believe that you will never achieve your milestones at the same time as the next person but that shouldn’t worry you because He’s got you. Peace be still. Pleeeaaase be still.

If you spend all your time worrying about what “he” has and what “she” is doing, who’ll worry about you? It’s time to stop and focus on you. Build you. Grow you. Love on you. Add value to you. Discover new and exciting things about you, and that you love to do. Do that thing…you know that thing you’ve always wanted to do..do that. Take risks. Challenge yourself to be more, love more, do more. Most importantly, with your head held high, strut confidently in your own unique path, trusting that the one who holds you won’t let you fall by the wayside. It will all work out in its own timing. Breathe. Trust the process. Enjoy the process.

““Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew‬ ‭6:25-34‬ ‭NIV‬‬

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Love, Maggie.

First blog post :)

Well, hello there!

Welcome to Maggie Living Life! I’m Maggie and welcome to the first ever blog post! This is a personal blog where I intend to express myself, share my passions, with the world and perhaps develop a new hobbie. Of course I won’t bore you with every high and low in my life, but I truly hope that the forthcoming posts will at least interest, intrigue or add value to  you in one way or another. At most I hope I will be able to somehow connect with people with similar experiences or be enlightened to new perspectives and lines of thought. Honestly, excited doesn’t even begin to describe how i feel!

So who am I?

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If you met me today and asked me who I was, the first thing that would cross my mind would be a quote by  Ming D. Liu that goes;

“Who am I? I am made from all the people I’ve encountered and all the things I have experienced. Inside, I hold the laughter of my friends, the arguments with my parents, the chattering of young children and the warmth from kind strangers. Inside, there are stitchings from cracked hearts, bitter words from heated arguments, music that gets me through, and emotions I cannot convey. I am made from all theses people and moments. That’s who I am.”

Fortunately I don’t go around scaring people with such deep and profound quotes, so a more realistic answer to that question would go something like this; a young christian girl from somewhere in the Sub Saharan region, who is gracefully trying to figure out this thing called life. I am a medical student, hoping for great things one day…my dreams are valid :). I am work in progress and I love every single journey each healed scar has taken me through. It’s all about enjoying the process. Dancing in the rain. If you wait for tomorrow and tomorrow never comes, who possibly can you blame other than yourself?

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“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” Friedrich Nietzsche

I’d like to hear from you, where are you reading this from?

Always, Maggie.