I was diagnosed in the final stage of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at the beginning of 2015. It felt like the world was getting ready for a party that I wasn’t invited to. I didn’t want to have chemotherapy although my family and doctors protested.
The disease progressed while I ate raw food for a year. In February 2016 a doctor put me on steroids to stop the tumour on my spine growing (misdiagnosis) and my mother flew with me from Zimbabwe to the UK for treatment. I was too weak to fight. The haematologist said I was too thin to start chemotherapy and put me on nutritional shakes. I cried hysterically telling her the steroids made me feel out of control, like I was in a dream and I had to remind myself where I was and why I was here – home was a distant memory. Ten minutes passed seemed like a day ago. She started to wean me off. I became stronger and determined again not to have chemotherapy.
Two weeks later on the bus I was attacked with fear. I panicked and got off at Bournemouth hospital. It felt like I was being hunted. I wanted to hide in A and E. I phoned my GP who told me to stay in a hotel. I caught a taxi with a driver who didn’t look human. If I was in danger I could throw myself out. Adrenalin took over and I became brave. My cousin phoned me to tell me my mother was looking for me and had phoned the police. I hung the do not disturb sign outside my door and someone slid it back under – I didn’t care and fell asleep.
I woke up on a mission. My life since a child suddenly made sense – it was part of a bigger story that was so alive and happening all around me. I felt exposed leaving my room with this awareness but had to get conditioner from the hair salon next door to the hotel. I became aware that I was not alone and discerned there were journalists incognito on this mission with me.
Four days later I sent my mother a message to bring my makeup bag with a K on it. Bring my stretcher and duvet. Pack my clothes in a rucksack. Bring my Voice in the Wind book, bible, passport, and rabbit – and leave it at reception. I don’t tell her I’m going home to Zimbabwe.
The next day two policemen barge into my room. I was in the bathroom wrapped in a towel. They told me the hotel was full and I needed to leave. I didn’t believe them and push passed. I opened the curtains and sat on the windowsill – so the journalists could see me. They asked me if I was taking any pills and went through the contents of my bag. They looked in the bathroom – my jeans and T-shirt were there. I told them I was writing a story – although I had no pen or paper. We waited for hours. I said little as the steroids had made me stutter. Ambulance men arrived with a stretcher. I was injected then handcuffed. They were so tight – I screamed. In the ambulance I fought to stay conscious in case my towel fell off.
In hospital a psychiatrist came to see me in A and E. I was heavily sedated and told him about my past week. I went to a Benny Hinn conference in London and got healed. I had a Sozo session that revealed a childhood trauma involving witchcraft. My daughter is in boarding school in Zimbabwe and my mother has arranged for her to live with her father in South Africa. She thinks I’m dying. It didn’t help and I was sectioned for three weeks. I didn’t tell him about the journalists.
I was given a copy of the section but I wasn’t sure why I needed it. I was transferred to the cancer ward until a bed becomes available at St Anne’s psychiatric hospital. A man named Leo sat at my door glaring at me. He was sent from an agency to make sure I didn’t escape. He didn’t like me and thought I was penga (mad in Shona). He told me he was a terrorist during the bush war (in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe) and that he knew where Thornhill, Gweru was. I was born there and wondered how he knew – for a moment I panicked and thought he might be a CIO agent and that I was in trouble with the Zimbabwean government.
It was Easter Friday and I asked Leo which church he went to and I heard Satan’s. Mid-morning he came into my room and danced like a snake – he told me he was going to have fun this afternoon. I’m not sure what Satanists do for Easter but my imagination told me he was planning to smuggle me out and sacrifice me. I had to leave. I was heavily sedated but had to fight. None of the nurses would tell me why I was there. Leo was constantly behind me. I went behind the reception desk to get away from him and pushed the emergency button. Four security guards came to my rescue. Instead they dragged me to my room screaming. They unravelled me on my bed and injected me. The last face I saw was Leo’s.
I had survived Easter Friday. Joseph, another Zimbabwean, did the night shift. He didn’t like me either and forced me to take medication to sedate me. I tried to hide it under my tongue but I was made to stick my tongue out and he sees it. It was Easter Sunday and I was anxious that Joseph was part of the plot. I messaged my friend in South Africa to tell her husband, Pete to pray what he used to pray on the battlefield. She didn’t understand but maybe Pete would although the motor neuron disease has progressed and he can’t speak. He was a watchman in the British Army and being the last two to leave the battlefield, would pray Psalm 91 over the soldiers. I slept with my bible on my chest open at Psalm 91. I snuck my rabbit into my bed.
The nurses became my friends. I told them Leo intimidates me and Joseph forces me to take the medication I don’t want. Leo is moved away from my door and soon after doesn’t return and I calmed down. The nurses will come to me at night when I call as Joseph is gruff with me when my sheets are wet from night sweats. He soon left. The doctors did their rounds and told me I needed to start chemotherapy.
After three weeks James, the psychiatrist lifted the section. The discharge form stated – steroid induced psychosis. Helen; my haematologist thought it was my heart break too.
I have just finished chemotherapy and I’m going home – I will be with my daughter for Easter.
Psst….I am a journalist.