OneStepBeyond

How I ran the StanChart Marathon in 90 Minutes

I started running on 12th March 2019. As the first run, I looped around a slightly half the Olympic size community pitch in an oversize pair of shorts and a white promotional T-shirt 80 times! I was angry at myself and cheeks – which had been mocked for being clinically chubby. I thought I would conquer them in a matter of 80 revolutions.

On the second day, my neighbour took me on road running for about 40 minutes, an experience that gave me an open disavowal to looping a muddy, wet pitch.

Third day, I rebelled from my neighbour and discovered own route defined by wide sidewalks and freedom from a durable feeling of being hit by motorists. Measuring the distance on Strava, the route sat at a staggering 10.22km. I’ve been executing this distance five times in a week with a Zen like consistency.

In August, I got on a wild runner’s high and did 29 days without a care in the world (world to mean pain in the knees, lower back and groin)! That’s only 296.38km. If you run this distance 22.227 times from Nairobi, in the coordinates 16°46’24.53″N, 3°0’26.71″W, you are in Timbuktu!

Mastering this game for 7 months convinced me I was ripe to enter local races. When the Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon reared its charitable running nose, I was excited I’m taking my first experience.

With a new found resilience from 10.22k regime, I dabbled in the thought of jumping into the 42.195Km and only disregarded it when I learnt it would be a big jump and a-not-a-nice-way to make a debut. I had read street-wise in-the-face articles, which convinced me it would be a tragic overambition considering I hadn’t achieved the level of training into it.

According to damn experts, It’s similar to coming to a gun fight with a knife and expecting to win. Even more, I’m not Eliud Kipchoge.

So I started a bespoke training for 21.1k and developing a mindset that would impact me winning the game. On the last training, I went full swing and did 21.26Km in 1:54: 56 to keep my preparation on top gear and have a model 21.1k experience. It was the kind of training that reassured me the half marathon was well worth pursuing.

Initially, I was afraid of the feat as the once far-off race day started to become real. What if I have to pee during the race? I was not me when I finished a 10k yet, here I was contending for slightly double the effort.

When the destined day came, I ate and went to bed early. I took some over the counter drugs to clear my stomach to avoid stopping on the race to use a washroom. My waterloo in running is the runner’s stomach – a condition in which the digestive system experience a large amount of agitation from the act of running or high-endurance exercise.

There was the blurring of music at the start with a mammoth of ecstatic men and women doing all manner of stretching to make a statement. The road was thick at the start. I combed through the masses and found myself running in a leaner road from the 6th Km mark.

Running with crowd means exposure to certain elements like the spit of a discourteous runner. At about the 8th km, a runner slowed me down by lodging a thick saliva on my very mouth as I tried to pass him. I hated my mouth for what it was – a cesspit of viscera full of bio hazards. I cleaned it with my clothe as I rushed to the nearest water point.

When I started to run towards the city, I turned faster runners into pacers and major milestones, spotting and passing them one at a time.

I came to StanChart to run in 106 minutes given my prior personal bests. When I hit my stopwatch at the finish line, I was surprised I made it in 90 minutes (1:30:04) unofficial time. This is a phenomenal speed for a casual marathoner! For males, the average half marathon finish time is 1:55:26 in UK according to the Runner’s World. Why I chose UK as my measuring stick is because RunRepeat data suggests that the half marathon is the preferred distance of Europe.

Reasons why I achieved this can be attributed to the following:

  1. Unlike during training where I run on empty stomach, on the marathon, I grabbed a morsel and a cup of coffee and drank about 1litre of glucose-enabled warm water an hour to the start. Running with a little food in the stomach makes a huge difference for me.
  2. The training terrain is a little terrible, you need to sidestep pedestrians, ditches and motorists. This doesn’t happen in the marathon as the road is smooth and well defined.

  3. Water handed over by the marathon officials also made a difference.

  4. In everything that I do, I apply 100% passion. I don’t do things in halves. I’m either going to do it or I’m not going to do it.

Finally, I’m registering (or would love you to register me) for the beyond zero half marathon in March. I will come back later with an article on how I anticipate to run it in 75 minutes, comparing and contrasting those strategies with those of StanChart marathon.

Life & Optimism · OneStepBeyond

I’ve been Running for 3 Months, Here are the Otherworldly Results

Trail shoes

Chubby cheeks

My body transformation journey started when I had a video call with a friend. To my chagrin, she commented on how chubby my cheeks had become and congratulated me on the quote unquote good life I was leading (I’m convinced I ‘ve never had chubby cheeks, only people look funny in video, but lets assume I did).

Nevertheles, I didn’t want to interpret as a badge of honour the thought of having a pack of subcutenous fat dangling all over my twenty-something-year-old body. Clinically chubby cheeks is a harbinger of a difficult future and not a yardstick for living standards or lack thereof.

It meant I would take up a workout challenge that promises a leaner body and reduces my chance of all-cause mortality by an outsize percentage. Besides the quest for a lean body, this journey has taught me an incredible amount about my body and overall health. I’ve discovered my latent elemental resources that would remain that way except through hitting the road.

After I was saddled with this amount of ‘body shaming,’ I tagged my cousin to the shop two days later to scout for a good cushioned trail shoe.

I chose running over others for its efficiency. It is free to run so I have no excuse if I’m unable to subscribe to a gym facility. You don’t need a field, a court or arena. Furthermore, besides a good pair of running shoes, there is no special equipment. All you have to do is lace up your shoes and hit the road right from your door step!

Not a jolly jaunt

As a beginner, I set a target of running for three months. All I’ve wanted is to show up five days a week, for 1½ hours and build endurance and a habit. Experts say it takes at least 12 weeks (3 months) to experience significant benefits from a workout program.Its not a jolly jaunt when you first begin. If exercise could be bottled up and sold as a drug, it would be a billion-dollar business.

Your own body is resisting your helping it! It is not used to stresses and strains of running. It is like sponsoring a kid to school and they tell you they are better off without an education.

My heart pumped so painfully and thighs hurt so bad. Legs became numb and heavy. My body felt like it had been run over by a truck. Now I don’t experience any of that and can run for 21km with an amazing cadence!

Primitive mouth breather

As a naive, clueless beginner, I did a lot of stuff wrong: leaping instead of taking small steps, landing on the toes instead of midsole and breathing solely through the nose. With intense reading, I’m learning the art of running and that I need to breath through the mouth because the nose is very small and can’t sustain the enormous gas requirements. Its to say I’ve become a primitive mouth breather!

Tremendous Respect

I opened up to two strangers we shared a table at an hotel about my running enthusiasm. The first question was that can’t I get mugged while running in the streets in the morning. There is really nothing to mugg off of an athlete in a Nairobi street. People have tremendous respect for us. They give way and jealously watch as you do something they are not.

Majority of motorists stop and give you the yellow light to cross the road. You meet fellow runners who shout out ‘strooooong’ as others raise their both hands in the air in a show of camaraderie. Some clap for you and you clap back.

What gets measured gets managed

My starting body weight was 75.1Kg with a BMI of 23.8. I’m pleasantly surprised I’ve added weight! My current weight is 75.46 with a BMI of 23.95. Weight loss is not a helpful concept because you want to lose fat and gain muscle (which is heavier than fat). The scale only provide one number, your absolute weight which isn’t always the best assessment of changes in your weight, or more importantly, your fitness. Plus I’ve been drinking gallons of water, which might have added water weight. Remember, a perfect outcome is not required either in any other aspect of life.

However, there are elements that have been enjoyable, such as the physical response of my body, the feeling of getting stronger, and the pleasure that comes with mastering a sport. Success is continuously improving who you are.

My last pavement stretch from Donholm to Umoja Innercore.

Health facts

Fact one: As a young person with energy to spare, exercising regularly sets a good precedence for your sunset years and retain your agility as you grow old. A simple one hour exercise can break down up to 755 calories in your body!

Fact two: Workout can prove frustrating if you push yourself too hard and expect instant results. It is not possible to shed weight you’ve packed up for years in a month. A standard work out programme requires at least 12 weeks (3 months) to achieve any meaningful results.

Fact three: When you do something every day, you don’t notice any difference at that moment. You think, “Where are the benefits?” But when you keep doing it for a long time, the positive effects compound. The snowball effect of compounding is a concept you must adapt to.So happy to have made a fitness decision to transform my life from sedentary to running, to move from one step to another.

I don’t walk the talk. I run the talk

Collaboration

What would happen if the Youth Supported each other?

wp-image-1201532827jpg.jpg

Over the last few years, I’ve put significant legwork into broaching the concept of youth development. Although most times it sounds awkward to help the youth when myself I need a lot of help, those articles have inspired me to go one step beyond. I have identified why the youth are an affront to their own success. Which was a subtle reminder that we must activate the power of living and doing things in the present moment than wait for a future we can’t conceive of. Following that article was another one addressing the sure fire way youth can become experts at whatever they do.

It is no secret that young people in Africa are marginalized socially, politically and economically. However, it occurs to me that we have one gem that can help us emancipate ourselves; collaboration – supporting the causes of each other and cheering one another along the way. The question I ask myself is how we can create that society in which every youth has the support and the opportunities to fulfill their potential. Safaricom has it as their campaign rallying call that if we come together, great things happen yet if we come together as youth, greater things happen

I will use OneStepBeyond as an example (I want my articles to be as personal as possible). A couple of days ago, I wrote my own story how I battled a medical condition and volunteered to help those who suffer the same with further information. As we speak, one reader who has been suffering from the same condition for 13 years gathered the courage and scheduled an operation with a Nairobi hospital. A couple of people whose paths have crossed with mine are taking up self-education and indulging in blogging to live an impactful life. During my campus days, I helped junior students to take up leadership roles. Whenever I met a fresh first year, I would challenge them to vie for class-rep, hoping it would put them on a leadership path. A couple I helped to draft application letters for peer counseling and showed them the offices. Majority of them still call me ‘my mentor.’

Nevertheless, I’m not doing all these to seek accolades; I’m doing this as someone who believes in collaboration. Who believes that we become a people through other people. Our small acts of support mean so much to somebody. Someone might have started a movement for democracy on Facebook, and is doing an important job to preach peace. An act such as liking or commenting on their post might motivate them to do even more.

OneStepBeyond, I’ve never wanted to shout out to people ‘follow my blog’ ‘read me’ ‘comment’ ‘share.’ I want to do my best to inspire as many people as possible. To write articles I would be proud to read if I were in the receiving end. Then I want my impeccable job to do the publicity. I really thank those who have supported my cause including those who do so in quietness, who slip in at night, read me, and support me and retreat before the daybreak. Thank you for supporting my cause, I also support yours. Keep going. In addition, let us continue supporting each other for the better.

 

OneStepBeyond

So you want to Succeed in Campus Academics? Here is a foolproof algorithm Everyone should Steal

I’ve been to campus myself and I know how challenging it can become. My abounding fear was not being able to graduate on time. Even though graduating two years later is still graduation, having a part of you remain in campus is not a cool thing altogether. It impedes your progress because you have to go back to sort issues when you should have moved on, to another chapter.

I’m woke to the academic challenges students go through in campus. Without an academic advisors. From sickness to missing marks to the contempt of lecturers who connive to fail students. To administrative red tapes. To other issues like struggling with finances.

You are going to understand my background before I go on with this story. I had a cousin in the same campus when I joined. As we discussed what I anticipated my life to be, I told him with intellectual thunder ‘I must get a first class here.’ I believed in myself because in high school, I had achieved academic feats and ended up in the school’s hall of fame. If I go back today, the vermin of that place would recognize me and say ‘welcome back you who once shattered the glass ceiling.’

It turns out, in campus, you need a different approach to face the new challenges and realities including lazy teachers who don’t mark exams but give random grades. In my first year, I read up to hours associated with witchcraft and was sure of getting very high grades. But was disillusioned when the results came. We will never understand how that happened. What is the point of working so hard when you can’t even get what you worked for?

Every student’s dream is to pass exams and graduate. The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. Set for yourself which grade/honours you want and why and work towards them. While you owe no one ridiculously high grades, the rule of thumb is, get the best grades you can and live up to your full potential.

“Success means doing the best we can with what we have. Success is the doing, not the getting; in the trying, not the triumph. Success is a personal standard, reaching for the highest that is in us, becoming all that we can be.” — Zig Ziglar

As someone who has been in an ideal Kenyan campus and made it, I have the moral authority to give you a foolproof algorithm for making it too. Look nowhere else for advice but here because these are not theories but practically tested methods. You can as well call them Moses Auma foolproof algorithm:

1. Prepare Early.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” -Benjamin Frankline.

You will laugh your way into exam room if you took your time to prepare early. Facing exam is about building confidence and there is no better way to do this than early preparation. Freedom in campus can sometimes carry you away and make you forget the priority. Last minute rush makes you feel like you’ve failed already. You won’t have time to dig deeper into the nitty-gritty that examiners love to set. It is like coming to a gun fight with a knife. You are only going to read at face value, leaving you semi-informed with a weaker grade. At the end, you’ve not lived up to your full potential. If you love yourself, you must have the discipline to read your books early.

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln

2. Join Discussion Groups

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” –Helen Keller

This is the greatest medicine I discovered. Discussion group minimizes the time you take with your book alone. Members help you see things you could take for granted. Different members have different areas of specialization, meaning someone understands a certain concept better and by being in the group you freely tap into this.

As a case in point, I did a unit called Business Taxation and understood nothing in class. When I went for group discussion, I had a member lead us in doing one example question that kept referring us to most of the topics and concepts taught, which I underlined as we progressed with that unspoken ‘aha, so this is it! This would open my eyes and motivate me until I became a pro. Things I did not understand in the notes were made easier and simpler by the group forces. The only units you can, probably study alone, are theory work, I mean its not a must to join a team to analyse the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem or how to survive in a desert.

3. Teach it out

You learn best when you teach it. Once I understood a concept, I looked for friends to teach them what I learnt. I went to them if they did not come to me. Teaching it out is like you are revising and becoming even more expert in it. It saves a great deal of time and makes you more confident with yourself and more authoritative with the material. In group discussion, you have the privilege to teach one another.

4. Have academic friends

Whether it is your classmate or not, the primary thing that should connect you with your campus friend is academics. That is the hard truth. Someone who points you to the library, who brings a discussion around classwork, exams, passing, graduating, improving, self-developing, dreaming, hoping etc. This is very important don’t end up with friends who only embraces dundaying, frivolous chit-chat, mediocrity and in between. Thank me later.

5. Use Online Resources: google, YouTube.

I could not have made it without online resources. Everything the lecturer teaches is in the internet, both in-depth with more examples, illustrations and ideas. The lecturer only shortens the notes, which sometimes leave you shallow. Before relying on the lecturer version (which you will eventually use in exams anyway), it is important to google for background information.

For example, I was taught an economic concept in sales and marketing called IKEA effect and DIY. I could not have known how it operates without googling. IKEA is the world’s largest furniture retailer headquartered in Netherlands.

We also learned about Boston Consulting Group (BCG) Growth Share Matrix – a tool for analyzing a range of investments – which I could have memorized mindlessly had I not gone to google to understand and take it all in, with practical examples and vivid illustrations than the half-page notes I had! Now I was able to know the BCG, how it was started, who started it and why.

IKEA effect & DIY is not a Kenyan concept. To understand how it operates, you have to go to the fundamentals: googling.

Additionally, YouTube saved me on a unit called Econometrics (Obama’s father studied this in the US).

To embrace econometrics is to plunge immediately into the arcane statistical language of OLS regression, heteroskedasticity, multi-collinearity, Gauss-Markov’s best linear unbiased estimator (BLUE) among others. After class, I took additional lessons on YouTube, being taught like a six year old, step by step, concept by concept. My aim was to gain an insight into the things I heard in class. This worked very well for me. Online resources become very handy especially due to the difficulty of finding text books in the library. Students jam up books in the library, if one finds a useful geography book, he hides it at the mathematics shelf so that no one finds it.

6. Stay long enough with your problems and develop a positive attitude towards them

“Don’t wish it was easier wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenge wish for more wisdom.” — Jim Rohn

There are always those stubborn units that needs an Einstenian brain. Like the Econometrics. Stop walking around campus putting everyone on notice how you are doing hard things! Sit down and unpack your problem heap by heap. It boils down to early preparation. If a unit is hard, chances are, it is hard for a majority. By working hard on it, sleeping on it, waking up on it, you become among the few people in class who understands it, even just a little. If the top student scores 24/70, ensure you fall around there. The department might decide to standardized results and woe betide you if you get a 02! For how can you be helped?

7. You might fail a unit or two, that is okay but do this.

No one wins a game of chess, or the game of life by only moving forward – Sometimes you have to move backward to put yourself in a position to win. If you fail, register and do your retake exam on time. You must read well now, cut the retake bully down into sizes and put it in its place. When you fall, pick something up.

8. In exam room, trust your brain, write slowly and legibly, skip lines and pray.

This is about organization. You want the examiner to be able to see your work clearly. Psychologists warn us against trusting our brains but I dare you to do so in an exam room.

After doing all these, always remember that academic success is neither the only thing nor everything but one of the many things. Be aware of this so that you can pursue other noble causes while in campus!

Take some Chinese course. Walk away into the botanic garden and meditate. Join a Christian mission and win a soul. Contest an election and lose. Start a blog and be an inspiration to many.

PS: Kindly follow and Subscribe to my blog to receive more articles right in your email every Saturday.

In Their Own Words

Who am I? Former CU vice chair ‘s Battle with Identity Crisis

There are things we struggle with, which are more psychologically damaging and more worrying than asking google whether eating mango skin is good for your health.

Moreen Chebet, also a former Egerton University Christian Union vice chairperson, narrates her struggle with identity crisis, which almost crashed her self-esteem. For her, she wanted freedom from the societal demand to gain recognition through clan/father’s name. Read on.

Me, myself and I. These are the most crucial self-searching statements someone might battle with in the different phases of growth.

I grew up in a culture that prizes identity on family dynamics. If you really don’t have a strong family/ identity system, the world might come crumbling down for you.

I hail from the slopes of Mt. Kenya. On the leeward side of it. Nanyuki is famously known as Mwisho wa Reli, since this is the last town where the British-built railway line ended. Many have it that the railway line map got lost and the Indian constructors had to stop here.

I’m a firstborn in a family of five, raised by a strong mother and grandparents (I’ve been a community child since almost every woman in the village narrates how they babysat me when my mother was away, possibly looking for something to eat.)

I had many questions in mind including my identity. You talk of your mom, what about your dad? Most people would ask this question any time they wanted to know more about me.

I grew up in a small village where everyone knew everyone and you would be identified with the name of your father as a cultural shtick. On top of this, there is a clan name, where you are named after someone in your family who passed on recently. Your clan is more important than you. People identify with the clan, and not as individuals.The clan name is a preserve only to them whose parents are married. So if your mother is not married, you only end up with the regular name, with no clan name.

Growing in such a society created a longing and a thirst for a name. Especially when visitors or old wazees paid a visit and wanted to dig deeper to know your namesake and would be very happy if you are named after their dead mother, father, aunt or sister. This would win you some sort of favours including an invitation to their home or some instant money.
Without a name or someone to identify with, these favours flew right in my eyes. Identifiable age mates would go pay a visit to their namesake and I would be left behind.

This saw some of my siblings taking my grandfather’s name as their surname to fit in within the system.
With no special treatments, I would be left behind wondering what mistake I ever committed to deserve this.

As a result, I had low self-esteem. I would cry a lot and ask myself why I had no name like others. It pained me more when my younger sister started calling my uncle ‘dad’ like my cousins did. It was so painful to tell people that my mother is not married.

In the midst of all this, my grandparents accepted us. They would defend us from fights and arguments from whoever tried to mock us. My mother would leave early in the morning for work to earn some money, leaving the five of us safely under the care of our grandmother and aging grandfather.

Shosh would cook, feed and clean us. We were named shosh children. We knew we were secure with her. She would sell her poultry or goats to clear our school fees.

Allow me tell more about my grandmother.

Moreen’s grandmom in her graduation attire

She is an early riser, she would be up at the first cock crow, warming water for her grandchildren and making an early breakfast. By the time we left for school at around 7, she would have done the dishes!

This continued till I joined high school. While there, I felt an urge to get into love relationships to fill the gap of a father or rather a male figure. And mark you, these relationships never worked. I felt they were not fulfilling the void in my heart. Fortunately, grandmom’s love and hard work kept pushing us to read hard and return to her good grades.

She would give us a big challenge when she started attending ngubaro classes (classes meant for old people). Her 32 page exercise book would be cut into two pieces (there was no chance for wastage of resources) and this is how much my grandmother valued education.

I remember she would sermon us when she heard that we failed in exams or we had developed uncouth behaviours. Anytime we were with her, we felt a sense of security.

The issue of having a female surname as opposed to most children raised a lot of concerns. Yet I now feel secure and okay using my mother’s name since she is both mom and dad.

Moreen

I continued battling with identity up untill high school when I kind of took a self-discovery journey. It started dawning on me that I have more than a father to identify with. A father who would stick with me in best and worst moments. This is when I welcomed Jesus Christ as Lord over my whole life.

Whenever I feel lonely or urged to be identified with a physical father, I have and will always whisper to Him my anxieties and He has always been there to hear me out. Doing greater things than what a physical/biological father could do. He never disappoints.
I am now satisfied and secure under His wings.

PS: In case you have a compelling life story, you can tell it at OneStepBeyond, the only place that communicates and reaffirm your worth: email mosesauma51@gmail.com

OneStepBeyond

Storytelling is the next Big thing for African Youth

If we go silent, negative stories take a life of their own and create misconceptions that are very hard to change.

If I could sum up everything I’ve learned from over three years of blogging, it would boil down to one thing – one important lesson in communication – never let anyone else tell your story!

Because if you don’t tell your own story, you empower the tendency of other individuals with different motives and agendas of their own to misrepresent who you are or what you have done.

In one of the most watched TED talks called the Danger of the single story, Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie said these brilliant words which espouses the need for storytelling. ‘Stories matter. Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign, but stories can also be used to empower and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people, but stories can also repair that broken dignity.’

The 2015 World Happiness Report stated that Togo was the world’s least happy country. It was just another example of how the world misunderstands Africa especially when they speak for us. The Legatum Africa Prosperity Report on the other hand used some of the same Gallup data as the World Happiness Report, but its conclusions were slightly different – and Togo’s ranking was slightly better.

This is a good example that shows how a people who have never spent time in Africa, (even if they did, it is between airport and hotel room) uses their academic observatory to malign a continent that is so rich in traditions and taboos and which make us happy than merely using indices like laughing and smiling to measure happiness.

Unlike our ancestors who told stories merely to pass time, storytelling is one of the most powerful tools in today’s personal development and business communication toolkit. Sadly, it’s a tool that most people don’t use.

The best way to brand yourself and pose a good representation of your abilities, values, what you care for and respect has always been, everywhere else, in telling your stories of maturity, of dignity, integrity, of consistency. Stories of interest, humor, intellect, science, art, sport, love, of resilience, of failure and success.

Whether you are trying to apply for a job, writing a motivation letter for a scholarship, evangelizing your visions or struggling to get your message across anywhere, you need to include storytelling in your repertoire.

At OneStepBeyond, storytelling is my currency. I’m trading on my story. Genuine, unusual story is my key to becoming memorable in a highly crowded digital world.

Each individual has a tremendous amount to contribute to humanity. You can make a positive difference in the world through storytelling. The worst mistake we make is thinking that other people don’t care about what we have to say. They do, though it might not be out loud. Humans have a natural desire for a compelling narrative.

If we go silent, negative stories take a life of their own and create misconceptions that are very hard to change.

Life and Optimism

How I fought a Monster called Hemorrhoids and Won

Social Media is a fool

It only shows half of what is real. Nobody posts about issues they’re grappling with. Like being afraid their health may fail them. Or how dissatisfied they are about the arrangement of their teeth or conformation of their foreheads or the size of their eyes.

People are presenting the very best take of their lives. Adorable photo-perfect moments. Edited faces. Addictive feeds of fitness models. Exotic travels in constant state of joy and, humblebragging about their professional and personal accomplishments. What the sound bite media does is to make you think your own life doesn’t measure up while everybody is living and winning big.

Not at OneStepBeyond. Here, I promised I would bring it all. Including tinny snippets of my comparatively humdrum and badly lit life. We need to cultivate in our communities permission to share struggles, regularly communicate the message to never stop trying and that showing up for help is deeply important, if not necessary.

This post is about creating awareness on a disease called hemorrhoids a.k.a piles. I’ve been suffering this for two years. Two more people have opened up to me about it but I won’t discuss them because I don’t have their permission.

Piles of defeat

Even in our history, hemorrhoids wrecked havoc. Phil Mason’s book ‘Napoleon’s Hemorrhoids: And Other Small Events That Changed History‘ tell us that the almighty Napoleon Bonaparte, a French military revolutionist (Kenyan version of Miguna Miguna) lost a battle to the French army at Waterloo on June 28, 1825.

Napoleon Bonaparte

Despite fighting well at Ligny a few days before the dramatic June battle, there is considerable indication that Napoleon was bothered by very painful thrombosed hemorrhoids that day, which affected his generalship and eventually made him lose the war.

So what is piles/hemorrhoids?

There are things we take for granted like being able to pooh-pooh comfortably. Hemorrhoids take away all that privilege and throws to the dogs. A very easy, enjoyable process you are used to, all of a sudden, becomes a monumental task. You begin to wish things like washroom never existed in your a to-do list. You are at a big loss.

Then there was the fog of my diagnosis, a bunch of misshapen junk terrorizing my anus – grade one internal hemorrhoids and severe anal fissure. Which would later advance to stage three at the time of the surgery.

Everybody has hemorrhoids. It only becomes a problem when the veins around your anus stretch and bulge and get swollen and leaves you with tremendous pain after defecation. Sometimes you see blood in the toilet paper. Sometimes you feel like you’ve not finished pooh-pooh even though you have. You want to scratch the lips of your anus like crazy. If you have external hemorrhoids, you want to push them back every half hour.

When I went to our school’s sanatorium to register a complaint two years ago, they wished it away and sent me back to class to work hard and sort out the country. Not once did I do this and got the same results.

It is when I was overwhelmed with pain that I spoke up about it with my American dad and mom. Listening, they suggested I find a doctor I trust and begin the examination. Wasting no chance, I went to Mediheal hospital Nakuru and met Dr. Aemen Asher, Consultant General, Cancer and Laparoscopic Surgion and Gastro-Intestinal specialist.

He examined me in his office and declared with a gentle slap on my cold butts and a gentle Indian accent ‘you have hemorrhoids brother.’ Then he instructed me to convince my parents to first consider a lab test called sigmoidoscopy – a very expensive test for a hundred percent evaluation of disease to rule out things like a growing tumor.

Then there was the fog of my diagnosis, a bunch of misshapen junk terrorizing my anus – grade one internal hemorrhoids and severe anal fissure. Which would later advance to stage three at the time of the surgery.

Now anal fissure, a long crack in the rectum, is not a child’s play. While writing one of my exams, the discomfort it brings had reached an overdrive. It was the sense that I wished I were cut into two and the torso were thrown into a pit of forgetfulness.

We were in an exam hall where desks connect with each other. The desk you sit on acts as a table for whoever sits behind you. To survive, I had to alternate between my left and right butt. Unfortunately, I shook the desk uncontrollably, rendering the person behind me unable to write. He hit and shoved my back to stay cool. Eventually, for the sake of his peace, he moved to other place. Leaving me torn among grinning, writing exam or explaining my discomfort.

When you suffer from hemorrhoids, you don’t want people to notice it. You become pretty darn good at hiding it. You fake smile and cut an image of a very cool person in public. But alone, you grin in pain and soak your pillow every night. You alter your bowel movents from the normal once per day to once after every 3-4 days. Food rots in your belly because you don’t want to pooh, because you don’t want to cry.

According to American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons (ASCRS), the average person suffers for a long time before seeking treatment for hemorrhoids. Many people are embarrassed to visit a doctor to have their back side examined. According to Medical Life Science Journal, worldwide, the overall prevalence of hemorrhoids in the general population is estimated to be 4.4%.

The surgery and my hospital phobia

I entered the Mediheal on 20th December to be admitted for Open Hemorrhoidectomy – a surgical procedure involving chopping off of the swollen anal veins. There is another option called stapler hemorrhoidopexy. Though healing time is shorter and there is less pain after surgery, research suggests there is a high chance of hemorrhoids reoccurring later in life and is a lot more expensive. There is almost 0% chance of reoccurrence under the former option.

After registration I was supplied with blue, one-size-fits-all uniform and led away to the backyard, to the wards.
I’ve never been to a ward leave alone an operating theatre. I freaked out on entering the general ward. Which would become my home for the next couple of days. I’m greeted by a sight of hopeless people looking forlorn and woebegone. At best belly-up and writhing in pain like upturned beetle and teetering on the edge of a fast cliff. People whose shelf-life could soon become obsolete and others who have shrugged off prognosis. Some with pipes running through their bodies. Others being fed and making sounds of despair. Others with bandages wrapped around their head. Others upholstered in specialized beds. There are these untouched meal trays and a squad of doctors making rounds.

The next day, I was laid head flat atop a gurney and ‘chauffeured’ away by two nurses into the God forbid operating theatre. A spinal cord anesthetist had been hired for me by the hospital. As he mixed his madawa, the surgeons were brandishing their tools of trade off the standard hemorrhoidectomy tray, talking in low tones in a circle and adjusting the light beams.

Will there be blood? Will I be hearing scalpels cutting through flesh? How long will I be there? Will I be able to use my anus immediately? Will they lend me theirs in the meantime? These are some of the questions I asked the medical psychologist I was put under.

It occurs to me now that, in hospital, you have to be on the other side of fear. No gain without pain. You will be injected just about every time and just about anywhere. I had anesthesia needles thrust into my spinal cord. Arms fitted alternatingly with tubes complete with stoppers to create what they called ‘njia ya dawa.’ When I asked how long this ‘thing’ is supposed to take on my arms, I was told ‘as long as you are in the ward Moses.’ ‘It is like an identification mark here.’

After the surgery, urinating the normal way becomes a thing of the past because, apart from it not coming out totally, ‘you will strain and you will break the incisions and you will bleed like crazy, and you will go back to the theater, and we will restart with anesthesia and we don’t want this to happen and so do you” said Dr. Aemen. You are fitted with catheters to urinate through a system of bags.

If things can go wrong they always will

Problems seem to arise naturally on their own, while solutions always require our attention, our energy, and effort. Your precious Christmas time. Your family and friend’s involvement. But above all, your money. When I started out about my hemorrhoids, my crisis consisted in the fact that I didn’t have a medical cover, the surgery being very expensive notwithstanding. Now, we have used alot of money to put hemorrhoids into remission. And if my American dad and mom did not come through for me, I would be condemned to live with my condition. Even worse, die from it.

Love to thank everybody who stood with me and the hospital nurses and the doctor – all who have tremendous respect for human life!

Call to Action

If you are suffering from this, open up about it and find ways you can manage it rather than wait for the time tested methods of treating pains, ignoring untill it goes. Not all hemorrhoids need surgery. Your doctor could help you deal with this from an early stage, before it becomes resistant to conservative methods of treatment.

Murphy’s second law of thermodynamics state that entropy – which is the measure of the tendency of things to go wrong/disorderly – normally increases. If things can go wrong, they always will. So don’t wait. Patients prevent, doctors treat, God heals. Go one step beyond.

A law of physics says that it takes work to make the entropy of an object or system smaller; without work, entropy can never become smaller – you could say that everything slowly goes to disorder – Wikipedia

Happy late Christmas Day! I was in hospital, you know.

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