How my wait and see attitude proved to be a dangerous gamble

Home based care

The wait-and-see approach has always worked for my health; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. 

Photo credit: Pool

What you need to know:

  • It was foolish in August 2021, when I had Covid-19 but waited a distressing week before I got tested then saw a doctor.
  • It was foolish when I got shingles but waited days before the rash developed into a band of excruciating blisters.

My approach to non-emergency health incidents has always been to wait and see. ‘Non-emergency’ here is such incidents as a runny nose, a fever, a stomach upset, a broken heart. I believe that if you give your body time to fortify its arsenal, then it will gallantly fight any intruder that threatens to breach the walls of your good health.

There is no point in seeing a doctor. Rest, take a lot of water, throw in some entertaining movies for good measure, and whatever is ailing you will peter out on its own over the next couple of days. And your body – as smart and as militant as the Good Lord created it – will make a detailed permanent record of what attacked it when and how. There will also be a step-by-step of how the attack was fended off. Think of it as a strategy for warfare. The art of war: Your body takes no prisoners.

The wait-and-see approach has always worked for my health. I have employed it to Muna as well, our six-year-old daughter; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. GB takes on a more pragmatic view, that if we have medical insurance cover, why aren’t we making the most of it?

Well, I am here to confess that my approach is foolish. It was foolish in August 2021, when I had Covid-19 but waited a distressing week before I got tested then saw a doctor who prescribed medication that had me back on my feet two days later.

It was foolish a few months before that, in June, when I got shingles but waited days before the rash developed into a band of excruciating blisters that clustered around my waist. Had I seen the doctor earlier, he would have prescribed pain medication that would have eased the agony.

It is also foolish that Tuesday, when Njeeh, our one-year-old son, develops a runny nose and a dry cough. His cousins had visited the Sunday before and had brought us a bagful of mangoes with a side of the flu. Njeeh catches it. Guess what I do when GB asks why I am not taking him to the paediatrician? That’s right, I dismiss him with my warfare rhetoric.

Sunrises come and go, the flu matures into a fever. Njeeh sucks his thumb all day, to soothe himself. It just so happens that homeboy is also teething – all his four premolars have broken through his gums at the same time. The poor thing. I foolishly cling on to my wait-and-see rhetoric while administering spoons of Paracetamol. He gets better… but only for a few hours.

Evening party

It’s when he is no longer sleeping or eating properly that I eventually take him to the paediatrician. The paediatrician doesn’t applaud my wait-and-see approach but doesn’t admonish it either. I tell him that we didn’t have this many hospital visits when Muna was Njeeh’s age, ‘Is there something amiss with him?’

The paediatrician says that second borns always have it rough. He says, ‘Muna goes to school and plays with her friends at home, whatever viruses she is exposed to out there she brings them home to Njeeh. His immunity is still maturing, that’s why he catches coughs and fevers more frequently.

That’s Njeeh’s story. Here is mine and Muna’s story: On the same day I take Njeeh to the paediatrician, GB and I later attend the wedding of a close friend. It’s a beautiful garden wedding held in one of those lush locations in Limuru. 

After the wedding, we stay for the evening party. The stars tonight seem to hang lower in the moonless tableau. We drink and dance until the wee hours of the night, when we stumble like hopeless teenagers to our on-location hotel room.

I wake up to an upset tummy and a threatening flu. Guess what I decide to do about it? Yeah, I know, foolish. GB shakes his head, he doesn’t utter a word but his body language says, You can’t be serious. I also gulp buckets of water and heed when nature calls. And she calls several times, dear reader, he-he, she calls severally.

When we return home later that day, Njeeh is bouncing off the walls but Muna is under. She has a fever and a broken spirit, she is sprawled on the couch like a discarded banana peel. 

Dawn finds us waiting at the paediatrician's reception yet again. He says that Muna’s ailment is not related in any way to Njeeh’s, it’s a coincidence. He adds, ‘Let me also prescribe something for your stomach. It will clear in two days but in the meantime, hydrate with anything but water.’ I chuckle like the fool I will no longer be.

@_craftit; [email protected]

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