It was an effortless love with Alex—or so I thought. We bonded over our passion for outdoor activities. Every weekend was an adventure with him. Occasionally, we would be spontaneous, but most of the time, we planned our activities in advance. Our time indoors was just as exciting, and we hardly ever had a dull moment. Laughter and passion denoted most of our interactions.
Alex felt like the man who came to restore my faith in love. We shared the same interests, unlike in previous relationships where I had to dial down my adventurous spirit. After months of a smooth relationship, we started discussing the future. Since we were intimate, we even talked about being parents, and we had aligned ideas about the issue. Then the dark days came.
I woke up one day feeling extremely tired. My joints hurt, I had a slight fever, and my head was throbbing. If a typical African mom raised you, then you know rushing to the hospital is not the first thought unless you felt like you were on the brink of death—I wasn’t. I thought I had the flu, so I decided to rest and stay hydrated. I woke up the following day feeling the same, and I took it a notch higher by taking a concoction with ginger and lemons. Then, I added pineapple skin tea into the mix because I was very determined to beat the flu. After a couple of days, I acknowledged I needed professional help and went to the hospital.
“Hi babe, I went to the hospital and got some meds,” I told Alex.
“That’s great hopefully you’re back on your feet soon,” he responded.
We didn’t know the road to recovery was nowhere in sight. The doctor thought I had a viral infection, but my body’s response to the meds begged to differ. At this point, besides the initial symptoms, I even lost my appetite. I hardly ate anything. I lost weight. Alex, my supposed pillar of strength, got easily curt with me.
“You know you don’t need to feel like eating to chew. You eat because you know your body needs it,” he often told me.
“I really have no appetite,” I said in despair.
“Maybe that’s why the medication isn’t working,” he replied.
My friends tried making me soups to help with my feeding, but it was futile. I hardly had the strength to entertain anyone. I was tired and in pain sometimes, so I couldn’t perform girlfriend duties with Alex. Our usual outdoor activities were out of the question, and Alex did a lousy job hiding his disappointment.
During the first weeks of my illness, he stayed with me, but as time went by, he looked like there was a gun to his head. He was grumpy and spent more time snapping at me than comforting me. Once, a group of friends passed by on Saturday afternoon to check on me. They had plans to have fun after the visit, and Alex literally invited himself to their plans. He didn’t check to see if I had everything I could need since my joints still hurt. He almost told them to cut their visit short so they could go out.
He did not come back after that until a few days later. Our conversations on text were filled with arguments over everything. Unable to fight him and my disease at the same time, I decided to go silent. He stopped checking on me. I went in and out of hospitals, but there was no improvement. Eventually, a friend suggested a particular hospital.
The doctor at the other hospital gave me a different diagnosis. He said it was easy to misdiagnose the disease I had. I got a different set of medications, and he assured me I would get better. It must have been his confidence or his assurance that made me hopeful. I diligently took the meds. The recovery was gradual, but I slowly regained my appetite.
I had stopped looking at myself in the mirror because I couldn’t recognize the person in the mirror. In the moments of despair, I had even planned my funeral. I had at least a few friends who checked on me regularly, and Alex wasn’t one of them. When I finally healed, I decided to go on a nature walk. I took terrific videos and pictures—nothing like a near-death experience reminds you to capture every moment. I posted it on one of my socials, and Alex saw it. He commented, and I ignored him.
Like a man on a mission, he dedicated the next few days to pursuing me, trying to rekindle what we had. “It’s beautiful to see you up and about again,” he said.
“It’s wonderful to be back on my feet,” I responded.
“It reminds me of the many moments we shared. I have really missed you,” said Alex.
“Yet those moments weren’t enough to make you stay with me when things got bad,” I told him.
“It was very stressful for me,” said Alex.
“I thought I was going to die, Alex!”
“You stopped talking to me,” Alex defended himself.
“You told me I was acting sickly and I was deliberately refusing to eat. That was when you were not picking fights with me,” I told him.
“I was very stressed, babe,” said Alex.
I realized he would not admit that he deserted me when I needed him the most. He tried to change my mind for a couple of weeks, and then he finally accepted that I wouldn’t date him again.
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