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Memory loss, one childbirth scar I carry

By Sylvia Wakhisi
Wednesday, December 4th, 2019
Ruth Vusaka.

Motherhood for Ruth vusaka  came at a huge price; from two miscarriages, memory loss and low blood pressure to her son being diagnosed with asthma, life has been a rollercoaster

For Ruth Vusaka, motherhood has been a learning experience with both exciting and challenging moments  that have made her a stronger parent.

From suffering two miscarriages and memory loss to her son being diagnosed with asthma, Vusaka puts on a brave face as she strives to give the best care, love and support to her children and husband.

At 33, Vusaka, who works as a transcriptionist at Parliament of Kenya is a mother of two; Arthur Baraka aged six and Amanda Kwe,  who is two  years and 10 months old.

“My motherhood experience has been humbling. I realise I have human beings to bring up and I am stuck with them for the better part of my life,” says Vusaka.

She is the primary caregiver to her children, meaning that  she experiences firsthand the good and bad times her children face.

“Like a garbage bin, my children throw  all kinds of emotions and unpleasant feelings to me and I have to accommodate them,” she adds.

Asthmatic child

At the age of four, her son, Arthur, was diagnosed with asthma after a series of hospital visits.

“At first, we thought it was an allergy and we tried to find out exactly what it was. When the attacks came, he would cough every five minutes for hours. No mother can sleep through such coughing,” Vusaka remembers. 

“Together with my husband, we took him to see different specialists with no success. I tried all kinds of concoctions, but the cough was always persistent. No antibiotic seemed to work. Some people even advised me to cut his uvula, which made the cough even worse,” she adds.

After several hospital visits, one more effort would see them discover what was wrong with their son. “In August 2017, Dr Lucy Gachare, a paediactrician at Upper Hill Medical Centre nailed the problem for us. She got us out of a dark place.

She established that my son had asthma and immediately put him on treatment. She then advised on ways to manage the condition,” Vusaka remembers.

For parents such as Vusaka, having a child with a chronic condition like asthma can make you feel alone. You feel as if  you’re the only one feeling scared, anxious, or overwhelmed. 

Having an asthmatic child is a unique and agonising experience, something only someone who has been there understands.

Memory loss

“I am grateful for having met Dr Gachare who helped us a lot. Now we manage the condition and the attacks are not as bad as they used to be two years ago. He seems to be outgrowing the condition,” says Vusaka.

She adds that the experience has made her a stronger mother. It is not easy having a child with a stubborn or lifetime condition. Every day is a gift.  Besides her son’s condition, Vusaka says she also suffers from serious memory loss, which began after the birth of her second child. 

“I forget names of colleagues I interact with every day. I can meet a colleague with whom I share an office and I can’t just say: ‘Good morning Winny.’ My brain just refuses to download the name Winny until a couple of seconds later.

I may know what I want to say, but my memory fails me. I don’t know if there is anything I can do about this since I have not attempted to seek help,” she explains.

Though she now enjoys motherhood, pregnancy came with its fair share of challenges. “I had it smooth carrying my first child. Unfortunately, I had a miscarriage with what was to be my second pregnancy.

As soon as I was pregnant again, my gynaecologist put me on some medication which helped me and the pregnancy went to term and I had my daughter in January 2017.

I had another miscarriage this year, which has left me nursing low blood pressure. But that is water under the bridge now,” she says.

Vusaka says she has learnt to take care of herself by taking  time off from the children even for just a few hours, and let their father take over to help her relax. She works out on Tuesdays and Thursdays to keep fit and stay healthy.

Being a mother with a full-time job, her weekends are set aside for family. “My son and I play Snakes and Ladders, ludo and poker. My daughter is not old enough to play those games, but we play hide and seek,” she says.  

She, however, admits that things wouldn’t have been easier if she didn’t have a strong support system, right from her husband, sisters and her house help.

“My children seem to be in their best behaviour when their dad is around. My house help takes care of my children while I am at work during the week.  I have four sisters who call to check on me often,” she says. 

She remembers one time when her husband was away and her son fell ill. He was  admitted and Vusaka could not spend two nights with him because her daughter was exclusively breastfeeding, so, one of her sisters offered to stay at the hospital. 

She says motherhood has taught her to be patient and accommodating. “Who refuses to eat the food you spent time and energy cooking, but you still cook for them the next day?

Nursery rhymes get boring when they are repetitive, but I have to do it for my children,” she adds.

She explains that having a good relationship with your neighbours is also very important. “My neighbours alert me whenever they suspect something is amiss with my children,” she says.

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