NdiliQhawe: A Perspective On Pain

by | Aug 19, 2020 | Community Contributions, Mental Health, Health & Wellness | 2 comments

Written by Tafadzwa Madzika

Sometimes I hate my life. Maybe more than just sometimes. It’s not the thoughts of suicide that are ever present but just dying seems good. It seems simpler, an escape of sorts. Life can be painful. It mostly is. No matter where you are or what you have, there’s a sort of suffering for it. And I have to say the worst thing about life is that it takes an instant to crush things that’ll take years to build up.

2014 was supposed to be my year. Well, I say that about every year but yes 2014 was the one. I had university scholarships in the works and I was ready to take on the world. I was going to be the next Google employee and I would eat code and write bacon with the eventual dream of starting my unicorn (A company that gets to a valuation of 1 billion dollars). But as I’ve repeatedly heard, life is what happens when you’re making other plans. On July 18 tragedy struck. I had a near-fatal car accident.

I broke my neck. My C4 and C5 in particular which is the cervical region of the spine. I was instantly paralysed. I could speak and move my eyes but nothing else. In the moment I couldn’t process any of that because of the pain. It felt like they were 2 chainsaws grinding through my neck constantly but never cutting through. I can’t do the agony justice with words. It was the true essence of pain because I thought I had known pain before but I found out I hadn’t.

But I finally made it to Avenues Clinic after a visit to other emergency centres and they discovered I needed an immediate operation. The operation was going to cost over USD 8,000 and over half of the amount had to be deposited before the operation began. It went as well as can be. I’ll fast forward over my ICU and HDU experiences, those are stories for another day. But after the opening, it would take me a further 5 months before I could even use both my hands to handle a phone. I had a 6-month long hospital stay. The mental pain was far worse than the physical experience.

I could throw around a lot of cliches about life and pain or how what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger but I was barely hanging on. I don’t know how I made it through that but somehow I did. It’s funny how some things we think will break us arrive and we make it through them. We somehow crawl out to the other side. There’s still a part of me that asks why me. Why do I get to suffer out of everyone else?

I’ve suffered through chronic pain for years and I’ve been on medication 24/7 except those days when the fucked up nature of this country causes me to miss a dose because I can’t find my medication. Sometimes I’m a rock, unbreakable in the belief of things destined for me, and other times I’m just a mess and tears are the only thing I know. I cry regularly and I cry often. Somewhere along the way, I lost the art masculinity taught me of holding onto my tears within my eyes unless I was chopping onions or my team had just lost a Champions League final.

But I’m grateful for unlearning such an art because crying is cathartic. Sharing is easing the pain. Being okay without not being okay isn’t a weakness but the strength of recognising and accepting your limits. The wheelchair has been an adjustment for me, and it still is. But I’ve learnt not to let my circumstances define me because I’m not my situation. So we keep moving, we keep taking steps, we keep pushing the boundaries of our pain. I’ve often thought about giving up on physiotherapy but somehow I find the strength to keep it going.

They’re new struggles around every corner but that can’t stop us from carrying on. I want to keep talking more but I have a headache from crying. My nostrils are getting blocked but I’m sure you get the picture. We’re not our struggles, we’re not our pain but we’re more. I hope we all make it to the other side of our obstacles.

Occupation: 1st-year Psychology student, Blogger, Poet, Writer

Brief word: I’m passionate about writing and sharing my experience and the world around me. I’m fantasy aficionado. I’m also passionate about mental health and equal access for persons living with a disability. I often see hope in the world but I see the despair too.

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