David (not his real name) is a young lad from the coastal town of Malindi. He grew up by the Indian Ocean looking at the tides each and every day. He told me that to him the tides meant more than water rising and falling. To him the tides were a symbol of life. Sometimes life is so rough that even the best captain cannot sail through. Sometimes it’s calm with nothing significant taking place. Such times one can be made to think that tough times never exist.
I met David on the day I started my pediatric rotations. I went straight to them because the mother had a winsome smile. There are those times we take history of patients who are so angry at everything. Sometimes I take their anger for a symptom. Today was not one of those days. David was lying flat on bed, clutching to the mother’s arm as if all his life was dependent on it. He smiled from ear to ear, a sign that despite his story, he had learnt to appreciate life.
David has enjoyed the better part of his childhood like any other child. He had gone fishing with old men, he had helped in building his mother’s hut and bravely, he had undergone the wrath of a ritual knife. His mother was certainly proud of him. He had learnt things too fast. I admired his childhood. He had been away from the city lights and had faced raw nature face to face. One would think that he doesn’t go to school but he does, in fact he always tops his class.
For the last three months, his life has been interrupted tremendously by a lymphoma that has sworn never to leave him alone. His leg is swollen and so heavy that he can barely walk. The lymphoma has been a nightmare that he wished he never had. I also asked myself some questions that I know I will never find the answers,
’ Why David? Why this time that he has so much to dream of?’
In this reverie, I fail to find out which leg is really affected. I go back and find out it’s the left. Higher up in the thigh is a wound, a wound that receives the tender care of a loving and compassionate nurse. She dresses the wound everyday and she tells me today it is fantastic.
This cancer was his Goliath, a Goliath that needed an army and jet fighters and not just a sling and five smooth stones. But he reassured me that God will see him through this high tide. He will fight back with equal aggression. I left in awe. I had learnt to appreciate life.