Traveling with the Grinch

So for my vacation I find myself in good old Blighty – the United Kingdom – for my baby sister’s wedding (I don’t care how old she is, she will always be my baby sister). I love Blighty, I grew up here, became who I am here, she’s my second home. Blighty is where I learnt to take care of myself – on my own without parental assistance (best believe financially they were holding me down). Here is where I learnt that possibilities are endless so long as you’re willing to take that first step. Blighty is where I learnt that no one is responsible for your welfare – you are.


I’ve never been one to take risks. The Grinch is a perfect excuse.
“Lets go on holiday to Ibiza”
“Man, I can’t afford it” – the reality was always – hmmmm what if I have a crisis?
And sometimes the excuses creep into other scenarios.
“I can’t be an investment banker, that job is too stressful”
“I can’t take that course, what if I fall ill because of the stress?”
“I can’t work out, I’m sure I will get sick”
“I can’t go out, its too cold”


A Sickler’s world can feel like it’s full of obstacles, obstacles that prevent you from being spontaneous or adventurous.  Family (bless ’em) in a bid to protect you can also reinforce those obstacles.  The reality is this, an obstacle is only an obstacle if you let it.


In my second year of university, I caught a bad case of ‘itchy pants’ syndrome and decided I didn’t want to spend my third year in the UK.  So I applied to go on an exchange program to the University of Madison Wisconsin……. it was just a ‘lets apply and see what happens kinda thing’.  I got it, in addition to a nice tidy scholarship – there was NO WAY the Grinch could mind fuck me to letting go of this opportunity.


So off I went to Wisconsin, the ‘America’s Dairyland’ – home to the cheeseheads, the Green Bay Packers, Garbage (The Band….. luv ’em) and the Wisconsin Badgers.  I was chasing my dreams, doing me, and then one night it almost came crashing down…… Hold on to that thought we’ll get back to that shortly.


For those Sicklers that are looking to go to university in the ‘abroad’ see this post as your idiots guide to survival health-wise. For those coming from a hot country, brace yourself because your body is going to have to adjust to your new environment. The change in temperature and humidity can be a clusterfuck.


  1. Stay warm and more importantly stay dry. For the black females out there, you know that mantra about keeping your hair dry? Use that for the whole of your body.
  2. The weather forecast is your best friend.  Nothing worse than stepping out of your house dressed for the summer and its autumn outside.
  3. Drink loads of water, u might think you’re not losing water because you aren’t sweating. Big mistake, you are losing just as much water from central heating and the dry climate.
  4. Get registered with a GP. If you can, dependent on your insurance options, get to see a hematologist. Based on your first meet, both of you can determine the frequency of your appointments.
  5. Take your Penicillin. I do not deny that I am the most non-compliant patient so this tip is a tad hypocritical of me. In Nigeria the most common trigger of a crisis apart from stress is from infection – Malaria. Same could be said for the ‘abroad’ except it’s chest infections.
  6. Get your annual flu jab. The flu is no joke. Imagine having the flu, and then have a bad crisis aggravated by said flu AT THE SAME TIME? Not fun………
Back to my anecdote.  Madison, Wisconsin is located in north-central USA, a mere 4 hrs drive from Chicago, Illinois.  Its a pretty quiet town with everything going for it…….. except its fucking cold in the winter!!! So you guessed it, I fell ill…… constantly.  One particular night, the pain was excruciating and I couldn’t breathe.  I had a flash back of annoyance  I remembered I didn’t protest enough when the boyfriend at the time informed me he was going to Atlantic City with his Frat Brothers. (for those of you in the know, you can only imagine where and what he and his brothers were up to). Long story short, I woke up in ICU three days later. I have no conscious perception of what happened within those days.  What I do know is that I had had an acute chest crisis, which had required a blood transfusion. My parents freaked out!!  My mother – who I call my personal stalker – had located me in hospital (all the way in the abroad) and I spent the next two days trying to dissuade her from jumping on a plane to Madison Wisconsin.


At that point, I could have left the U.S. with plausible reason and abandon my course. For me that was not an option. The thing is this – for whatever reason I was born with this condition but there was no way in hell it was going to run my life. Don’t get me wrong I did run back home to my family…….. It was a sorry sight. I had lost over a quarter of my weight, two dress sizes, and I had to use a crutch (I’ll save that for another post) but when summer school started (despite my mum’s pleas) I was back on a plane to Madison to make up my credits.


So what’s the moral here?


God never gives you anything you can’t handle. If he did, you would be dead. So don’t use your ‘hang-ups’ as an excuse not to follow your dreams. That would be a total waste. Don’t settle and kick arse. Apart from my mishap I had a fabulous time, an unforgettable experience and a sense of drive which keeps me going even now. It was from my time in the U.S.  I realized that getting a PhD was not impossible.


So take risks (within reason) and live your life to the fullest!!!  Take precautions – you never know when it will save your life and just live. You have the right too. You’re here aren’t you?


So with that I’m gonna go enjoy the rest of my vacation.