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The best laid plans

By Debbie Ogunjobi
There are many things that are automatic for most people. We take everything for granted: we breathe, eat , walk and go about our everyday lives like it’s the norm, like nothing we do is special.

We show an unconscious and smug entitlement to all the privileges that have become ordinary. How was your day? Is such a common question that most people just mutter an offhand response that does nothing to acknowledge the million miracles that have occurred in every single second of the day.

I am not becoming sanctimonious or self righteous in any way but my eyes have opened to the magnitude of miracles we take for granted.  I have had a bird’s eye view of the delicate nature of man lately and I have a greater appreciation for the intricacy of interconnected parts that make up a human being. My conclusion is that we are more fragile than glass.

One short and simple malfunction and the entire system unravels. We haven’t got a hold of life, life has got a hold of us and we are simply there for the ride.

Anyone who has ever spent any time in an Intensive/Critical Care Unit comes out with a greater understanding and reverence for and of life. You learn terms like the Glasgow Coma score and learn to monitor the levels of consciousness to assess brain function and face the possibility of death or becoming a vegetable.

I remember thinking it was no big deal when I first heard that my loved one scored a 3. In my novice opinion it was certainly better than zero but a few days later I learnt that 15 was the ideal score and 3 was almost hopeless!! When you watch people disintegrate and die within seconds you begin to get a new level of humility as you comprehend the very thin nature of the thread that divides life and death.

In the presence of death you actually forget to be afraid and a part of you shrivels as you accept that you are no different from those who expire. You learn not to share your good news where other people have just lost the fight for the lives of their loved ones!! Someone recently denied the existence of death; they opined that death is just an absence of life, just like cold is an absence of heat and evil is an absence of good. Whatever one chooses to believe, a lack of life is a terrible thing to contemplate and accept.

I only ever saw a life support machine on television programs but recent history has made it possible for me to read it like a book. I now know what a central line is and how important it is to intubate and help the body along when it can’t help itself.

I can read a CT scan and tell when the pulse rate and all other vital stats are failing. No one actually ever considers the possibility of incapacitation; we never think there would ever come a day when we are unable to do things for ourselves. We just draw breathe and take steps, we make grand plans and continue as though that is the way it always will be.

It is very possible to go through life not knowing that the simple aspects of motion, respiration, interaction are miracles and privileges in themselves. It would make us all better people if we ever gave that possibility some thought.

It would make us kinder to one another as those we will need should we ever face that possibility must be those we have invested some love and kindness on.

I met a Zimbabwean whizz kid recently who is trapped in his own body. While in a meeting with some telecoms giants, he suffered a massive stroke that has left him totally dependent on the few friends and family who show up. He was so busy getting rich, that he left his loved ones on the lower rung of the financial ladder.

Now even though he gets the best treatment money can buy in one of the best hospitals in the world, he lives for the very infrequent visits of the few kinsmen that show up. He had great plans, he was admired, even in the state I met him, and it was easy to see he had been quite good looking and commanding but there he laid a prisoner in his own body.

It is very possible that he makes a full recovery and I certainly hope so but the situation he finds himself is one that most people don’t even make provision for.

For those who are going to wave their health insurance certificates in my face, I can categorically tell you that love counts more than money in the big picture. Love will determine if your next of kin decides you are worth the sacrifice of nursing you in good or ill health; love will keep your friends and family around you to encourage you and motivate you to fight the battle of your life.

The best laid plans of mice and men are nothing when the everyday privileges of breathing, eating, expelling wastes, walking and all other activities we enjoy are placed on hold, at that time, it is only the grace of God and love of men that matter. This I know for certain.


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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.