My name is Éjire. Keeping healthy has always been key for me. I strive to eat right, and I exercise regularly. Unlike many who complain about the challenges of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, this isn’t at all a painful process for me.
I have been a UK size 10 almost all of my adult life, even at periods when I felt that I had over indulged and needed to shed some weight, I still remained a size 10. I recall that an ex boyfriend once told me that if I wasn’t so short, I would have been a supermodel. Although I later found out that he was slow to truth, I believe that he was being truthful about that one thing. I had the figure of a supermodel which I got from my mum (you should see her, she’s hot). I had what Nigerians call the figure “8”!
In the last couple of years, I faced health challenges that can be blamed solely on the devil – not that I intend to go spiritual on you (for those who mind so much). Till now, I still feel more at ease blaming the devil for what happened to me because as I said earlier, I have always been healthy till about five years ago while I was away from home, on an internship. Although Doctors, Scientists and Realists say that mine was simply a medical condition that occurs in many African women, I beg to differ. Surely, Mr. Devil must have had a hand in it.
Due to my touristy / restless activities, I lost quite a bit of weight therefore it was easy for me to notice a hard-ball-like-bulge by the side of my acquired six-pack tummy. I was terrified. I initially wondered what it could be but was quick to determine that it had to be a fibroid since I had heard so much about it. Once I self-diagnosed the problem, I managed to enjoy the rest of my internship experience and looked forward to seeking medical advice once I got back home.
I showed my father the “hard ball” and he sent me to a doctor who examined me and indeed diagnosed fibroids. He quickly recommended that I should undergo surgery, but I didn’t like the sound of it. Recognizing my fear and reluctance, my father sent me to another doctor, a friend of his in the UK for a second opinion. As I love to travel, I thought that this “fibroid situation” was beginning to turn into somewhat of a blessing! That was my own silver lining or so I thought.
My fears were allayed when the doctor gave me statistics that showed that fibroid in African women was common. Not that I wish my fellow women any ill but it sure felt good to know that I was not alone. He also told me that I would not require surgery since I was not in pain, or bleeding excessively, or about to get married, or planning to have children at that time. This was a great relief! I did not want to be sick. I kept the faith that the problem would be resolved quickly one way or the other. As the Nigerian would say, “God dey”!
About a year after my first diagnosis, the fibroids really started to grow at an alarming rate – so much that I had to abandon many of my clothes and I just stuck with a few that could hide my tummy. This new way of life was seriously cramping my style because I love clothes, fashion, and I was beginning to miss my perfect “8”. Little did I know that I had just begun the horrid journey.
Months went by and my tummy continued to grow, to the extent that people started to me ask me if I was pregnant because the fact was that I could pass for an 8-month-old pregnant woman. Coupled with the growth in my stomach, I started to break out in pimples on my face. On a bad day, I could wake up with five painful ones on my forehead and another five on my cheeks! They said that I got hormonal because of the fibroids. Naturally, I got depressed. Had I wronged anyone? First of all, I looked pregnant when I wasn’t, and then I had a scarred face with lots of pimples and dark spots. I could hardly recognize myself in the mirror. I did not want to step out of my room let alone my house and questions from friends about my health made me even more upset. I felt trapped in this new body. I had lost my figure “8” and didn’t feel so much like a woman anymore. I didn’t feel like Éjire. I was lost.
I started to see beyond the physical. It seemed like there was a force that intended for me to be depressed, lost, and sick, to look old beyond my years, and to be undesirable. After sulking for several months, I decided to get a grip and to take the bull by the horn and fight for my sanity! I started to look into my mirror and declare that I am beautiful. I dared the devil to do his worst! I vowed to be happy, and to rock my world… every bit of it. I put aside all the clothes that no longer fit and shopped for clothes that could hide the deformity in my body. I decided not to wear makeup which just clogged my skin anyway, but to leave the pimples and scars open to fresh air so that they could heal quickly. I asked myself at this point – what’s the worst that can happen? I again heard a voice tell me that I would be ugly, miserable, and alone. That voice said that I would never again look like the chic I used to be, that no man would ever want me, that I would remain unhealthy… it said a whole lot but in my response, I called on my Creator to restore all that I had lost.
At this point, my mum was particularly worried about the state of things and kept fussing that I should book a surgical appointment to get the fibroids removed. Hard as it may be to believe, I had developed cold feet! It’s amazing how at the beginning of this journey, I couldn’t wait to get my figure back but later, I got used to a bad thing. I had done some major shopping buying clothes to hide my big tummy. I had gotten the boldness to show off my pimple-face and no one seemed to be complaining so I guessed it was OK. Little did I know that they were not complaining because they just got used to the not-so-perfect Éjire. After all, no one really is perfect.
Since mums have the power to make things happen, I found myself booking a surgical appointment with a Specialist UK doctor that I had been referred to by my previous doctor. After a couple of appointments with the supposed lifesaver, he started to exhibit some racist tendencies while showing alarming incompetence. He would say one thing today and then go back on his word the next day. This got me worried. Wasn’t he the Specialist that he claimed to be?
My dad stepped in and recommended that I go to see his colleague and friend in Ibadan, Oyo state. Did I hear Ibadan? I had envisaged doing the surgery in the UK, US, or some other fancy place with some hotshot doctor but not in Ibadan! My dad was convinced that the doctor is as good as they get, and I trust him. God really has a sense of humor doesn’t He? At times, the solution to our problems lies in the most unlikely place. After a couple of consultations with my Ibadan doctor, the date was set for the surgery. With my heart in my mouth and a lot of prayers, I went under the knife.
Two and a half months after – here I am, healthy, strong, and pimple free… I guess the hormones are no longer raging! I have begun to wear the clothes that I put away when I could not fit into them. Although doctors say that I need to gain a bit more weight because I lost 7 kilograms in just two weeks, I have my “8” back and I feel more confident as a woman! The devil (or whatever you may choose to call it) has been put to shame.
I found the solution to a huge problem very quickly, in the most unlikely place. The weeks in that hospital in Ibadan were very uncomfortable for me indeed I have been told that I make a very bad patient, but it was well worth it. I learnt many lessons the hard way.
For one, I learnt that health is wealth indeed. I also learnt to love regardless of physical appearances. I learnt to cherish life a lot more, and to thank God for my new beautiful figure and my perfect face. I had once thought that beauty was my entitlement but now I learnt that it is a gift that must never be taken for granted.
To all women who are still rocking their figure “8”, “9” or whatever works for you, don’t forget to thank God for it because it’s a privilege and it does wonders for women.
Photo Credit: weheartit.com