What do you do when life hands you lemons? The easy answer is ‘make lemonade’. But simple answers have no place in the real world. It is so easy to say that when you are doing fine, but when life really throws lemons, you realize you don’t even know what lemonade is. Is it a juice? A food? A cake? Do you have you the recipe? Do you have the ingredients? Clearly, you have no idea what the hell a lemonade is or how to make one. So you do the next best thing you know. Move on with life. We talked to King* (Anonymous), who woke up one day to find bag of lemons at his doorsteps. Thanks life. At 18, he contracted the scourge of the world. Now, he is 21, pursuing a commerce degree in Kenyatta University, but he still doesn’t know how to make the metaphorical lemonade. He is among the 1.6 million Kenyans living with H.I.V. Out of that number, nearly half a million are adolescents. He did what he could to deal with it. Through it all, he has learnt that some things can never go back to the way they used to be. This is what he had to say.
- Life is Thrown Off-balance in a Flash
For most Kenyans, 21 September 2013, was the day when the horrible specter of terror came to life as terrorists rummaged the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi. After a few days of blunders and drama, the terrorists escaped or were killed, depending on whom you believed. That is the exact day my horror story began in Nakuru. But unlike in Westgate, the tiny H.I.V terrorists in my body had no plan to escape, because they are literary bulletproof. Throughout that week, I was down with a severe case of tonsillitis. One of the first major sign that you have viral infection like H.I.V is swelling and pain on your lymph nodes. Lymph nodes contain soldiers that capture and digest invaders. As the virus settles in the body, there is an epic battle between the invaders and the guards, whose evidence as in my case, was tonsillitis. The tonsillitis was so bad I had to seek treatment.
Two weeks later, when I went for a routine testing, I had no idea that it would turn out the way it did. My first reaction was denial. Perfectly normal because there are five stages of dealing with personal tragedy/shock; denial -> anger-> bargaining-> depression-> acceptance. At first, the mind is so shocked to accept that such a thing has happened. Then the reality hits home and you become angry at God for letting it happen, at your partner, at your friends, at yourself, your family, and everyone in your life. You wonder why you have been good all along if such a thing would happen to you. Then your anger subsides and you start to reconcile yourself to the fact that life will be different for you, but you have to be courageous. Depression is the most risky stage. People have been known to commit suicide at this stage. This is where counselling helps most. If you survive the depression stage, you accept what has happened and move on with life.