Truth of the heart episode 56



Lwipa sat down gently trying not to wake up LJ. At 9 months, LJ cried as much as he did when he was younger. If anything, it seemed to have wors£ned. Lwipa had re-ad that new borns suffer from colic which causes them to cry excessively. He also re-ady that colic usually went away by the time the baby was 5 months. That was not the case with LJ. He cried at all hours of the day. On days that he was not crying, LJ spent most of that day slee-ping.

Lwipa as-sumed Tomaida weaning LJ early contributed to the crying. Immediately LJ was started on solids Tomaida decided it was time to have her brea-sts back. She had considered brea-stfeeding a chore. The fact her choice of clothing was affected to accommod@t£ the brea-stfeeding added to the reasons to wean early. Lwipa tried to persuade her against it but Tomaida stood her ground saying it was her b©dy and she had the prerogative of deciding what to do with it.

Convinced that LJ was in de-ep sleep, Lwipa slowly stood from his seat and la-id LJ softly into his crib. He then proceeded to prepare and leave for work. Around 11 hours Lwipa received a call from a panicked Bana Joe.

“Slow down. That did you say?”

“LJ is not breathing properly and his crying very quiet.” Bana Joe tried to explain.

“Where is Tomaida?”

“Aunty went out in the morning.”

“Ok. Get a taxi from the corner to UTH. I’ll find you there.” Lwipa jumped from his seating and hurriedly explained the situation to his office as-sistant. Driving as fast as he could, he cares less of the speed tra-ps he pas-sed on his way to UTH. Once there he tried calling Bana Joe but his call went unanswered. In the reception area he looked at every person seated but could not sp©t his son.

“Sir, I’m looking for my son. Lwipa Kalenga.” He asked the registry clerk.

“Sorry, no child by that name here.” The clerk responded.

Lwipa walked out to the entrance of the children’s wing. He tried Bana Joe’s number but it still went unanswered. Feeling helpless, he paced around thinking of what to do next. A minute later her saw a white Corolla speed throu-gh the gate into UTH and come to a screeching halt right in front of him.

“Uncle!” Bana Joe called to him as she alighted the Corolla.

“Thank God.” Lwipa mumbled. He took out his wallet, re-moved k200 and gave it to the taxi driver without asking what the bill was. Picking up LJ from Bana Joe’s hands, Lwipa rushed back into the building and straight to the nurses station.

“plea-se help my son. He’s not breathing properly.”

A nurse directed him where to place LJ. “What happened?”

“My maid called me over 30minutes ago that he wasn’t breathing properly or crying normally.”

“Ok. You go and register his details at the reception. Is the maid here?”

“Bana Joe!” Lwipa called out in the reception. When she reached him, he told her to explain everything to the nurse as he went to the registry. Within minutes he was back at LJ’s side. A doctor was alre-ady examining LJ. An oxygen mask was placed on his face and a drip connected

“I’m doctor Njwena. Are you the boys father?”

“Yes doc.”

“How old is he?”

“9 months.”

“Is he still brea-stfeeding?”

Lwipa shook his head. “No. He st©pped at 9 months.”

“Where is his mother?”

“She’s in town. Should be coming soon.”

“Does he have any diarrhea or vomiting?”

Lwipa looked at Bana Joe who shook her head in response.
“None.” Lwipa said to the doctor.

“How is his appetite?”

“He’s a picky eater. And has be f0rç£d most times.”

Dr Njwena examined LJ from head to toe, instructing areas to expo-se, p@rts to bend or sides to turn him. “I suspect Lwipa Junior has anaemia. We nee-d to carry out some lab tests to confirm what is causing the anaemia.” She wrote some notes into LJ’s file. “He is also pres£nting signs of mild malnutrition. That can cause anaemia but I suspect it there could be another reason causing it.”

“Ok doctor. But how can he have malnutrition? I buy every type of food he nee-ds. Is it because he st©pped brea-stfeeding?”

“Not necessarily because he st©pped brea-stfeeding. It could be that he is just not getting enough food since you alluded to the fact that he has poor appetite. It could also be that the people preparing his food and feeding him are not giving him the correct food that is balanced and healthy. Often times we find parents giving their children super shake for example is thinking it is healthy just because the bottle says it is made from maize meal and milk. What they are actually doing is denying their children a balanced diet in exchange for plain sugar.”

Lwipa nodded, though not fully un-derstanding what the doctor had just explained. He watched in agony as blood was drawn from the inner th!gh of LJ’s leg. For the second time in his life, Lwipa was terrified. Looking at LJ struggling to breathe, he feared he would lose his son.

“Sir I forgot to ask, do you know your son’s HIV status?” Dr Njwena asked.

“I’m negative. So he must be negative too.”

“Ok. I’ll come see him when the results are re-ady. Mean time we will keep him on oxygen.”

“Thank you doc.”

Lwipa was given a chair to sit next to LJ. He gave Bana Joe money to get back home. He then decided to call Tomaida. When she didn’t pick up he s£nt her a text telling her LJ was admitted.

Tomaida arrived at the hospital past 15 hours. At that time LJ’s breathing had stabilized and he was moved from casualty to the acute ward. “Oh God, what happened?”

“Where were you?” Lwipa asked.

“I esc-rted aunty to the farm. She nee-ded transport.”

“And you left LJ behind knowing you would be gone the whole day?”

“That is why Bana Joe is there. Lwipa, why do you try to find faults in everything hey?” She sat on the be-d next to LJ. “What’s wrong with him?”

“Anaemia.” Lwipa responded dryly.


“I dont know.”

They sat quietly both watching their son sleep.
Tomaida moved LJ in the be-d to make him more comfortable.
“What time did you change his diaper?”

“I haven’t.”

“You are joking right? Where is his bag?”

“Bana Joe forgot to bring it.” Lwipa stood up. “I’ll be back.”

Lwipa went home to collect supplies for LJ. He decided to change from his office clothes. Bana Joe had cooked a packed a meal for him and LJ to eat at the hospital. Lwipa thanked her a d told her she could knock off but Bana Joe insisted on staying incase they nee-ded anything.

Back at the hospital he found Tomaida had bought some diapers and changed LJ alre-ady. LJ was awake but not active. Tomaida held him in her arms,rocking him. Around 19 hours the doctor pas-sed throu-gh to see them.

“I recieved the blood results earlier in the day. They confirm my suspicion of anaemia. His haemoglobin is 6.2 which is quite low. His white cell count on the contrary is on the higher side meaning he has an infection. Another important result we received was the sickling test to check for sickle cell disease. This c@m£ out positive. I recommend we give him a blood transfusion, then continue with blood boosters, antibiotics and intermittent oxygen thera-py for now.”

“So you say my son has sickle cell?” Lwipa asked. “How?”

“It means both of you have the sickle gene which you pas-sed on to your son.”

“But doctor, I dont have sickle cell. So how can that happen?” Tomaida held LJ closer as tears swelled up in her eyes.

“I dont have sickle cell too.” Lwipa concurred with his wife.

“There are what we call carriers. These are people who inherit 1 sickle chromosome from one parent. For one to get the disease they have to inherit a sickle chromosome from both parents. The majority of carriers are not even aware that they carry the sickle gene.” Dr Njwena explained. She took a moment to let them absorb what she had just explained before speaking again. “Now, I nee-d your cons£nt to proceed with the blood transfusion.”

“plea-se go ahead. Now doc, how can I know If I have the sickle gene or not?” Lwipa asked.

“By having your blood examined in a hospital lab.”

“So for LJ to be sick it means we both have it? My wife and I?”

“Yes.” Dr Njwena looked from Lwipa to Tomaida. “Any other questions?” Both Lwipa and Tomaida shook their heads. “Ok, so the blood will be administered as soon as its retrieved from the blood bank. The doctor on call will review him after the transfusion.”

“Thank you doc.”

In the morning LJ seemed better. He sat up in be-d and babbled at his parents. A nutritionist has been as-signed to control his diet to treat the malnutrition. LJ was placed ona strict schedule of being fed every 3 hours with a special milk and peanut looking paste from the hospital to supplement the food that was brou-ght from home.

Lwipa went home in the morning to pick up more supplies for LJ as well as for Tomaida. Bana Joe prepared breakfast for him to eat, insisting that he eat before going back to the hospital. She also prepared and packed food for LJ and Tomaida. As Lwipa sat down to eat, he couldn’t help but compare Bana Joe with Wezi. Bana Joe seemed to comprise all of Wezi’s silent traits. Not to mention that she even sang most of the songs Wezi liked to sing as she went about her chores. When Bana Joe first started to work for them, those similarities would haunt him. Now, he found them comforting. It felt like Wezi was still there for him. Lwipa returned to the hospital soon after his mean. Cathy, and his young sister Amelia were by the be-dside when he arrived.

“Mum, hi.”

“Lwipa you surely couldn’t tell me my grandson was admitted.”

“Mum, yesterday was crazy I didnt even think of it. I’m sorry.”

“So what’s wrong with him?”

“Sickle cell and anaemia.” Tomaida responded.

Cathy and Amelia g@sped.

“Sickle cell? Are you sure?” Cathy asked.

Lwipa nodded and went on to explain what the doctor had told them about carriers. “He was given a blood transfusion in the night. Then they are also giving him injections on the drip.”

“So does that mean I’m a carrier too?” Amelia asked him.

“Its possible. You have to do a blood examination to find out.”

“Where? I’m so doing it. Because that means my son could also be a carrier if I’m one. Or my future children can get it.” Amelia said thoughtfully. “Lwipa, you should show me where I can get the test done. I want one today.”

Lwipa and Amelia were directed to the hospital laboratory but were told the test could only be performed with a request from a doctor. Lwipa suggested that they try a pri-vate lab instead. He drove them to Nkanza labs where the test was performed at a fee. Amelia persuaded Lwipa to take the test too because she felt nervous doing it alone. Not seeing the point to it considering Dr Njwena’s explanation, Lwipa refused to have it done. Amelia on the other hand was so insistent that Lwipa caved in the end. An hour later their results were re-ady. None of them carried the Sickle gene.