MY STORY: Nairobi life lessons I learnt from my broken leg
Being a teacher, I would never have thought that one day I would break my leg. Unfortunately, during a school sports day on the 2nd of June 2011, it happened.
Breaking my leg has to be one of the most painful experiences I have ever had, both physically and mentally. I witnessed a lot during my healing process. I had a chance to see both the human and inhuman side of people I didn’t even know existed.
Many of my colleagues would call me every day, to hear how I was doing. I had visitors each and every day during my sick leave. I had a chance to re-evaluate who my real friends really were. The ones who reciprocated the love and care I once gave them. Others never bothered to know how I was coping. The only time they saw me was when I went back to work.
The Nairobi matatus had to be the worst experience I had during this period. You’d think giving way for someone on crutches should be a common sense thing, it isn’t.
Once, I was crossing the ‘road’ and an oncoming matatu showed no signs of stopping. Behind me another one was reversing so going back was not an option. My sixth sense told me to just stay put. The driver of the oncoming matatu even had the audacity to yell at me saying ‘if I knew I wasn’t able to walk, I should have stayed home.’
I don’t know what I did to deserve that. I was just a lady with a broken her leg trying to cross the road.
ERRANDS IN TOWN
I dreaded doing errands in town. It was hell for me. People never gave me way, crutches and all. It was only logical that I should have extra space when it came to walking on a path. I never got that.
People would bump into me, not caring about how I was struggling to walk on crutches. It was a struggle that I couldn’t avoid. I wondered how the permanently disabled did it, especially in the always congested downtown.
There were times I had to go to the bank or the supermarket and was forced to queue. Queuing is something that a person supporting herself with crutches can’t do. Rather than getting an opportunity to get served, people would just stare at me. It made me feel like I had some sort of deformity.
The staring is what made me the most uncomfortable. Anywhere I went all eyes were on me and my leg. Sometimes I even had to ask people why they were staring. They never answered. It is like they had no answer.
A broken leg is more than a one month ordeal. It is hard and scary to think about trying something new. The crutches and my physiotherapy were my something new.
I had to learn how to walk using crutches. The physiotherapy on its own was excruciating. I experienced a whole new level of pain every day. But it had to be done.
I had limited space and ability to move. I had to spend most of my time in bed because there is literally nothing I could do on crutches. The boredom was terrible. I couldn’t even cook for my family.
Breaking my leg was an eye opener. I got to see Nairobians through a whole new lens. I had a new appreciation for my family and my life. It was my most vulnerable moment. My appreciation for my daughters heightened. At least I can say that I had a helping hand.
The most important part however, is that I got to see the world through the eyes of the disabled. I sometimes never noticed them. Now I respect them for coping every day, what I couldn’t stand for a few months.
Caroline Kagose writes for Content Production Media. Content Production Media is a Nairobi based Media Company that creates content for print, online platforms, film and television.