In Sickness and In Health

I grew up in medical home. Both members of my parental unit worked in the medical field; one as a nurse, the other a pharmacist. This made the treatment of illnesses quite easy. In Zambian public clinics where you have to wait for hours to get attended to, we never had to wait in line because the nurse on duty would either be my mum’s former classmate or workmate. There were times when I didn’t even have to go to the hospital. My mum would simply ferry my urine sample to the lab to determine that I had the UTI she had already suspected.

Growing up I rarely got horribly sick. My only downfall was the bronchitis-induced cough that reoccurred every few years. I remember each time I would get sick, my mum would come into my room over 3 times each night to either administer a tablet of this, or a syrup of that. Sometimes when all else failed, she would just come in to lay her hand on my chest and pray. In the morning, she would wake up and get ready for work like she hadn’t been on night duty the last night. This trend went on until I moved out.

Last week I got horribly sick and the nightmare cough was back. I could hardly sleep at night because of the continuous coughing fits that plagued my life. I seriously considered extracting my whole respiratory system from my body and let it cough itself into oblivion somewhere else except inside me. Now I have mentioned before that The Hub has been blessed with the gift of deep and easy sleep. So I figured I was alone in this nightly activity that I was enduring. But every time I had an extreme coughing fit, I would feel his hand on my back trying to soothe me. The poor man would reach out from the fogginess of sleep that surrounded his mind and would try to help me. There were times he would even get up to make me a cup of ginger and lemon tea with no fear of bumping into a wandering witch or wizard at that ungodly hour.

When people are reciting their vows on their wedding day, I doubt they have a full comprehension of what the words mean. I didn’t. When I said, I would love The Hub in sickness and health; I was just repeating the preacher’s words to be honest. The thing that I have learnt is that The Hub is my go-to person for almost everything. Those nights when my mum would stay up all night to look after me are gone. Marriage is The Hub waking up in the middle of the night to make me ginger tea even if he has no idea if it will help or not. Sometimes he would feel absolutely helpless because we had no idea what to do but he stayed up and soothed me. It reminded me of a few months ago when I was up at midnight googling home remedies because The Hub’s ulcer had him curling up in fetal position.

Sometimes you are all your spouse is going to have, and it’s a scary place to be. It’s frightening to be someone’s immediate next of kin or the first one to get a call if something happens. To be the one who stays up all night to monitor their temperature, or be the one who describes their symptoms to the doctor. Someone took my mum’s place, and I in turn took his mum’s place. It’s scary and maturing and sobering. We are adults now; if this doesn’t convince me then I don’t know what will. These are the vows we so quickly recited. This is the marriage we willingly walked into. This is the love we happily fell into.

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