The Day I got Screened for Cervical Cancer

I was nervously pacing across the tiny room. I knew I was crazy to be this scared but that didn’t make it any easier. I told myself this was just routine and nothing would go horribly wrong. But I didn’t believe a single word I told myself. I was in the Cervical Cancer screening room waiting to be screened. You would think that I was waiting to hear my HIV status by the way I paced.

Cervical Cancer is the most common cancer in Zambia and Zambia has the second highest rates of Cervical cancer in Sub-Saharan Africa. I knew all this and that’s why I was nervous. I have heard of women who have died from Cervical Cancer. It shows no signs or symptoms until the cancer is in full gear. Many people have crazy misconceptions on how a woman can get it. But the simple explanation is that it is caused by the viral infection of the cervix by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Oh yeah, and this HPV is sexually transmitted.

But here’s the crazy thing about Cervical Cancer; it can be prevented. See, before the viral infection causes the cancer, there are some precancerous cells that can be detected and removed to prevent the cancer. So routine screening is very important. Now I know all this but I still hadn’t gone for a screening yet. The thing is I don’t trust “routine” checkups. Each time I have gone for a checkup, they always find something wrong with me. And because I work in a place where I see pictures of full blown cancer ridden cervices everyday, I had the worst-case scenario in my head.

I was tired of the anticipation so one morning I just walked over to the clinic and told the nurse that I was finally here to do it. She had been prompting me to do it for a while so she was ecstatic. She left me in the room and told me to get ready, I already knew the drill. I took off my underwear and got on the bed. Oh, I forgot to mention, the Cervix is slightly past the vagina and is the door to the uterus. So taking off my underwear is a necessary move. When I get nervous, I get a gassy stomach so I was so worried I would accidentally fart in the nurse’s face.

The nurse then inserted a Speculum that looked quite scary, I must say. The key is to relax, then it will only be slightly uncomfortable. Try thinking of chocolate cake or something.

Then she swabbed my cervix with vinegar and waited for a few minutes. The vinegar makes everything on the cervix visible enough for inspection. Then the nurse got a camera which was connected to a T.V besides the bed and got a picture of my cervix. Because it’s impossible for the human eye to detect anything, they use the camera to zoom in and pick up every single detail. If there are any precancerous cells (cells that will turn into cancer after some time), they show up looking white on the picture. So while the nurse was taking the picture, I was on the look out for anything that looked anything close to white. I think sometimes knowing too much is a bad thing because the worry is unbearable.

She showed me the picture on the TV. It was clear! I had a very clear and pink cervix. No precancerous cells and no cancer. The relief I felt was almost tangible. I almost cried. The picture of my cervix stared back at me like a pretty little baby. I thought it looked beautiful. If I had got the picture I would have shown you guys. I have encountered cases of women younger than me who found out they had the early stages of cancer so I knew just how blessed I was. I got up from that bed feeling so relieved, I didn’t even care if the nurse saw my stretch marks. I was also so happy my sphincter muscles hadn’t let me down.

The whole procedure took about 15 minutes. 15 minutes that made my life a bit lighter. 15 minutes that took away the worry of cervical cancer. Even in the event that I had been found with cancer cells, it wouldn’t have been so bad because I would have caught it early and something would have been done about it. Most women die from Cervical Cancer because they catch it really late.

Any woman who has had sex needs to get screened for cervical cancer. It is done for free in government-run clinics. Go to a clinic near you and get screened. Have you been screened for Cervical Cancer? You might want to do it soon. Early detection leads to early treatment.

My next appointment is in 2018, three years from now. I’ll make sure I keep it.

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A weekend away in Siavonga

For someone who claims to love travel, I have been to very few places in Zambia. So when friends of ours suggested we drive over to Siavonga for a weekend, I was ecstatic. It had been on my to-visit list for too long. Because we were a large group of 10, we decided to carpool. We started off early on Saturday morning and arrived two hours later. The thing that struck me was how beautiful the country is once you drive out of the city. We drove past hills and valleys all covered in green.

The beautiful green landscape

The beautiful green landscape

We had already reserved rooms at a lodge called Freshview Homes so all we did was go straight to our rooms. The room was a decent size. I was glad to see an air-con because Siavonga is really humid.

The room was a good size

The room was a good size

Now for those who might not know, Siavonga is on the edge of Lake Kariba, the biggest man made lake in the world. So imagine my awe when I found that we had an awesome view of the lake just from our doorstep. I want a life like this you guys. A place where I can write while looking out on the lake. I bet I would never have writers’ block.

The awesome view of the lake

The awesome view of the lake

When I was a kid, I was fascinated by lizards. So my siblings and I would kill them and arrange a whole funeral procession for them. We even had someone give an eulogy of the life of the poor lizard. So one of the things that I noticed was how the lizards were so different from the ones I used to bury. These ones had blue tails. I tried to capture one but they moved so fast. I suspect word about me must have spread across the Zambian lizard world.

Blue tailed lizard

Blue tailed lizard

If you’re trying to decide on what to eat in Siavonga, let me make it easy for you. Eat fish. Because of the proximity to the lake, fish is guaranteed to be extra fresh. In Lusaka, by the time a fish gets to your plate, it has traveled far much more than you ever will. It has been touched by more people than necessary and is on its way to rotten. Siavonga fish is fresh y’all. And that’s what I ordered. The cooking is quite ordinary I must say. I kept on thinking I could have cooked a better meal. But then I’m just a budding foodie so I ate what I was given like a good girl.

Fish served on a fish-shaped plate. These people have a wicked sense of humor

Fish served on a fish-shaped plate. These people have a wicked sense of humor

By the time it was afternoon, it had become really hot. So The Hub and I decided to take a dip in the pool. Because of my fear of large bodies of water, I still don’t know how to swim so I never set foot in the deep end. But The Hub quickly went there and started showing off his skills. It was weird because I had never seen him in a pool ever since I have known him. (That goes to show just how much I avoid water)

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The lodge does not have a gym but that didn’t discourage me. Siavonga is very hilly so you are always going up or down. So I just ran up and down the rocky stairs a number of times, did some push ups and dips and I was good to go.

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Great workout space

Just to prove that I was there and I didn't get these pictures from the internet.

Just to prove that I was there and I didn’t get these pictures from the internet.

The restaurant prepared an awesome breakfast (it’s very difficult to mess up breakfast). And after lots of group photos and weird poses by the pool, we started our journey back to Lusaka. We didn’t get to go on the boat cruise because of our tight program but it’s in our future plans. I wish we had stayed longer but life was calling us back. I wish I could go away every weekend because it is such a peaceful place.The great thing is that it is just 2 hours away so it’s easy to get there. It is a great place to go and relax. I’m definitely going back there soon.

Day Trip to Chaminuka

Zambians are spoiled with a wide variety of places to ogle at wildlife. All you need is a functioning car and a tiny heap of money and you’re good to go. A few friends of ours suddenly decided they wanted to visit Chaminuka, a privately owned game reserve in the outskirts of Lusaka. Lucky enough, it coincided with my day off from work so I gladly tagged along.

We were all from different parts of town so we met in a central place and got into the two biggest cars and started off. It takes 30 minutes to get to Chaminuka from the Kenneth Kaunda airport. The road is not tarred the whole way but thankfully it is not bumpy either and we quickly got there at 11am. Chaminuka offers a load full of activities. We decided to go for a game drive first. We hopped onto the open safari vehicle and we were off. The guide really knew his stuff and described each animal we came in contact with.

The elegant giraffe

The elegant giraffe

By the time the drive was over we were famished. Chaminuka serves lunch at 1 pm so we rushed to eating area to eat. I was relieved to see that it was a buffet arrangement. There was such a wide variety of food, I didn’t even taste some of it. After lunch it was time for a boat ride and we were driven to a beautiful large body of water on the property.

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Now the problem is that I am terrified of water. When I was a kid, an evil friend of mine pushed me into a swimming pool. I just remember so much confusion going through my mind and my mouth involuntary taking in gulps of water. Needless to say I was pulled out alive, unless it is my apparition writing this. So when it was time for the boat ride, I tried to get out of it but the horrible people I was with insisted that I get on so I had no choice. I screamed half the time and was so tense no amount of massage would have helped. I kept on flinching every time the boat tilted and I was convinced we were going to die. I lamented not having left a will and regretted not having finished the chicken at lunch. But the longer we stayed on the water, the more I became at ease. So I braved a smile and took a few pictures even though my soul was dying inside.

When mean friends force you onto a tiny boat, just grin and bear it.

When mean friends force you onto a tiny boat, just grin and make a peace sign.

The guide led us to a tiny island in the middle of the water and we settled there for a while. I wanted to claim it as mine and name it after me but it was so tiny I knew that any hint of rain would make it disappear.

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The tiny island almost sinking under our weight

When we got back to shore, the adrenalin was kicking in and I wanted to go again but I got distracted by the sight of The Hub fishing. He looked so natural at it with a bored face that I wanted to dig a lake for him in our backyard (which we don’t have because we live in a tiny flat). But after 10 minutes of catching nothing but the sun on his face, he got tired and gave it up.

The Hub fishing (Is it still fishing if you don't catch anything?)

The Hub fishing (Is it still fishing if you don’t catch anything?)

After the fishing, we were driven back to the lounge area. None of us had carried swimwear so we just chilled and chatted until it was time to go home.

One of the activities we missed out on is walking the cheetahs. But I made a mental note to do that the next time we go there. It was a day well spent and I had lots of fun. I would definitely want to go back and spend a night. It is perfect for a romantic getaway trip or group/family outing and the food is great.

To find out more about them, check out their website.

Our new president is a very decent man

When I was a little girl, I would wear little dresses and sit with each of my legs pointing to a completely different point on the compass. Then I turned a certain age and I was told by the women folk around me that I had to keep my legs together. It was indecent to let each leg be lonely whenever I sat down. So I learnt to always keep my legs touching. Imagine my chagrin when I realized some men could sit however they want. It’s like they were given a mandate to do the opposite of what we were supposed to do. They were ordered to go therefore and spread their legs, especially when seated in a crowded mini bus or taxi.

But not all men though. Some men were told to cross their legs whenever they were seated and the new president seems to be one of them. Every time his social media team put up new pictures I can’t help but notice just how often he crosses his legs or “makes a four” as we say it here.

Photo cred [mwebantu new media]

When he was young, his women folk sat him and told him “Eddie, you are no longer a boy. You are a young man who needs to cross his legs whenever he sits.” Then one very old woman said “Our son, You shall be the president one day and you need to start practicing how to look good in the pictures on The Facebook” The president being an obedient child kept their words close to his heart, probably in a pendant he wore around his neck, and swore to always cross his legs.

Photo cred[ mwebantu new media]

Being the suspicious person that I am, I think it might just be a classic pose. Like every time his photo guy is about to get a picture he stops him and says “Wait wait wait, I need to get into my position first!”

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So now when mothers teach their puberty-inflicted daughters how to be decent, they shall use Powerpoint presentations with the Lungu’s pictures to illustrate just how decent they should be.

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Now I, by the power vested in me by the internet, name this position the Edgar. So when you’re sitting like this you’re no longer making a four, you’re making the Edgar. Talk about leaving a legacy.

The Dude that missed his wedding has me dead!

This past week has been heavy for Zambians. It has been filled with elections, results, accusations of stolen votes and reports of tribalism. I had stacked up canned foods and water just in case I wouldn’t be able to leave the house. There was a lot of tension all around. The new president was declared and people took to the streets celebrating. I could hear the noise outside but I didn’t dare to come out. Then on Sunday the president was sworn in and people flocked to go watch the procession. Again, I didn’t dare go. I hate crowds.  Then I saw a picture from that day that made me drop dead. 10945630_700789713374460_2953312246581213422_n

Oh Lawd! Where to even start from. This guy looks like he skipped more than just his wedding. He skipped English classes in school or maybe he skipped school completely. “I have MISED my WEDING BICOZ of this” – his school teachers must have been howling in pain when they saw this.

But since I’m a nice person, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and say he was just saving space. But he seems to have left a lot of it on the left side of the board. Maybe he wanted to make a paragraph y’all.

Imagine if he skipped his wedding for real, how crazy would that be? The girl would probably end up hating the president.

But I get the joke though. I get that he meant to express just how important he considered this ceremony to be. He definitely wasn’t serious about missing his wedding …..right? right? Come on, no one can ever do that! Just because he can’t spell doesn’t mean he’s crazy! ……Right? Oh well, there’s no way of knowing these things.

Our President is dead but our peace is not.

I woke up this morning and checked into my usual social media sites, a second later I wished I hadn’t. Various news sources were claiming that President Michael Chilufya Sata had died. I figured it was true because he had been ill for some time but I still had a bit of hope. It wouldn’t be the first time that news sites have wrongly reported someone as dead. The last time it happened, I arrived at work in black, thinking I was mourning Will Smith only to find out that he was very alive. So I held on to hope until I read the statement by the Secretary to the Cabinet officially announcing his death. Continue reading

eNCA featured Zambian Bloggers this time!

When you’re a Zambian blogger, you get used to being ignored. Very few people comment on your posts or even like them. When you tell someone you’re a blogger they ask you what that is. So I was surprised when a reporter from South Africa’s eNCA emailed me and asked if I could contribute to her coverage of Zambia’s independence. She intended to take a few Zambian bloggers’ points of view. I gladly agreed and provided her with the information she needed. I’m so excited! Zambian bloggers are being recognized as credible content providers.

You can read the interview here

Here’s to more great Zambian content creation!

Why I’m worried about Ebola and Why I shouldn’t be.

I sat in the corner of the minibus waiting for it to fill up. It was after 2pm and the sun was blazing. I was dying to get home and just shed off my clothes and cool down. Then an overweight woman came in, with sweat gushing out of her poles and wetting her skin. She chose the seat right next to me squeezing me further into the corner. I was wearing a sleeveless top so our skins were touching and all I could think about was “Oh God! please don’t let me get Ebola!” Continue reading

Livingstone – Victoria falls

During the easter weekend, The Hub and I travelled to Livingstone for a mini vacation. All I wanted to see was the Victoria falls but we got to put in a few more things. It was in the spur of the moment so we didn’t plan out everything in detail. I learnt that if you want to visit Livingstone during a long weekend, you have to reserve a room very early. A few days before the weekend I tried to book a room in some recommended lodges but each one was fully booked. A friend who was out of town for the weekend saved our trip by letting us use his house. Continue reading

Fake Lawyers and Presidents

Very few interesting things are ever reported on the news, but this caught my attention. It’s Zambia’s president Michael Sata during a swearing in ceremony. It was just the usual boring news until 0:40 – 1:05 happened.

M.S : What is your (pronounced “yowa”) profession?
Zulu: A lawyer of the acting registrar of the …..
M.S: But anyway, you are a fake lawyer! Because if you are a proper lawyer, how do you read that patent when the man has not sworn in? The man is supposed to swear that everything he’s doing…. But he hasn’t sworn in and you are giving us the patent. Without God, we wouldn’t be there Mr Zulu.

I don’t know about you but the leap from patents and swearing to God was rather erratic. Poor Mr Zulu, he had no choice but to keep quiet and let the wrath fall on him. I must say the president quite reminds me of my boss.