Eric’s Diary VII: The little bubble boy

 

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Please don’t call me “Mono”. I hate that nickname because everyone calls me that now. “Bad news travels like wild fire” – I guess that saying has never been wrong.
On the brighter side, I went for my medical review today. According to my doctor, I am doing great. But I have something very interesting to share with you today.

This time, it’s not going to be about me.I was at the Out Patient Department (OPD), when my curious-little-self decided to wander around the hospital. I was almost at the isolation unit when I heard a nurse shout : “Hey, little boy! What are you doing here? This is the isolation unit.”

I told her I was just curious. And I asked her a few questions about what I had seen so far.

“Nurse, on my way to the isolation unit, I could see a boy. It was like he was in a glass container.

I could tell from his posture that he was sad. What could be wrong with him?”

She replied : “That’s the bubble boy and you were not supposed to be around here. Let’s get you back to your Mum.”

You should have seen my face! I don’t like being treated like a child but my structure betrays me.

This time I felt like shouting out the fact that I am a teenager and not a small boy. But surprisingly, I didn’t. I guess my therapy is at work after all. I was still in a long queue, waiting to see my doctor when I heard a nurse mention the phrase :“bubble boy”.

I couldn’t help but eavesdrop ; I wanted to know more about him. One of the nurses said that the bubble boy may pop out of his bubble today. She said something about a surgery and an enzyme.

I couldn’t get the full story because just when the gossip was getting to a climax, I was called to see my doctor. However, I intended to get more information because it sounded interesting. I thought my condition was the worst till I heard about this bubble boy.

After evaluating my treatment, I told the doctor that I had some questions about the bubble boy.

When asked how I got to know, I told him that I heard the nurses talking about him.

The doctor mumbled something about the nurses’ behavior being unethical and some other things. But I was really not interested in that. I wanted to know the story about the bubble boy and why everybodycalled him that. Since I had heard almost everything, my doctor had no option than to tellme about the condition just that he withheld the boy’s name (besides this was strictly for educational purposes).

So from my conversation with the doctor, I got to know that the boy I saw had a genetic condition known as SCID (Severe Combined Immunodeficiency).
His body can not fight against any form of disease ; even catching a cold could be fatal. This is because these cells (produced by the bone marrow and thymus gland) that are responsible for this action, are either not present or are defective.

Therefore, he has to be kept in a sterile environment for the rest of his life till a decision is made about his condition. He is called ‘the bubble boy’ because victims of this disease are usually isolated in a sterile environment and are hardly involved in any physical contact lest they get infected.

He said this deficiency is not usually noticed till about six months since the newborn would be carrying it’s mother’s antibodies for the first few weeks after birth. The antibodies that the baby carries are necessary for the fight against any infections.
However, there comes a time where the effect of the mother’s antibodies wean off, and the baby has to acquire its own cells to fight for itself. That’s when the disease is diagnosed because such children present with recurrent infection due to a compromised immune system.There is always light at the end of the tunnel. This means that the bubble boy’s situation is not hopeless after all.

He has two options : either have a bone marrow transplant or go through gene therapy. The former is a more common treatment which requires a donor (preferably a match) and careful screening to prevent acquired diseases after the transplant. His body also needs to accept the transplant because if this does not happen, he may die.

Gene therapy is an alternative to a bone marrow transplant. This involves incorporation of missing genes into a cells that can divide rapidly and then later inserting it into the individual so that the individual’s system is stored back to normalcy.
All this seems quite complex but I wish the bubble boy all the best. I hope that his surgery is successful so that he can get the chance to embrace life and go on vacations without worrying about any bacteria in the air.

Author:

Naa Adzoa Adzeley Boi- Dsane

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Eric’s Diary VI: Where my first kiss landed me

Source: Naa Adzoa Adzeley Boi-Dsane
Date: 12th-february-2016 Time:  10:23:16 pm

 

 

February 1, 2010.

It was a bright Saturday morning.  My parents had gone out on a date. Lisa had gone to visit one of her friends. I still call her my best friend though she is technically my sister now.

I did not go with her because she said it was going to be ‘a girl thing’. Trust me, when a girl says something like that, you don’t really want to know what they are up to.  This situation left me with no option than to follow ‘The Gang’.

Now let me tell you about The Gang. They are a group of boys who like to have fun usually by pranking other people especially when they are not involved in the game of football – in other words, they are notorious.  They invited me to play football with them.  I knew they were bad nuts but I did not realize that I was being lead into their broth. I said to myself: “After all, this is a harmless invitation.”

So I followed them.

It was a fantastic 90-minute game but I only played for 10 minutes.  The other boys said I had not trained enough so I deserved to be substituted. It was a draw in the end.  I believed both sides played well.  After the game, The Gang told me about their agenda.

They had scheduled a meeting at Elsie’s house along with other girls (Elsie was our classmate).  They asked me if I would like to come.  Because I did not want them to think that I was not brave enough to go to a girl’s house, I took up the challenge and replied in the affirmative.  We all went to our various homes to freshen up and arrived at Elsie’s house around 5pm.  She was left at home (alone), just like me.

It was there and then that someone revealed that we were going to play Spin The Bottle.

Spin The Bottle is a party game which is mostly played by teenagers.  In this game, the players sit in a circle and each player is required to spin the bottle and must kiss the person, (usually of the opposite sex) to whom the bottle points to when it stops spinning.  If the two people involved do not kiss within 10 seconds, they would have to French kiss.

For fear of being labeled as a scaredy-cat, I told them I would play the game.  I knew that everybody thought I would run away because they don’t see me as someone who is used to playing these kind of games.

Patricia set the ball rolling and it fell on James.

They followed the requirements within 10 seconds.  Ironically, I was the next person to play. So I spinned the bottle and watched it rotate about an axis.  Not that I doubted the principles of circular motion, but I was more concerned with who I was going to kiss.

This was going to be my first kiss and I wanted it to be the girl I liked.  I thanked my stars, when it fell on Jessica.  She was one of the prettiest girls in my class and I still had a crush on her.  Even though I liked her, I was still skeptical about having to kiss her in front of all the other ten players. I was so confused and did not know how to proceed.

Little did I know that as I was plunged deep in thought, the 10 seconds had elapsed so we were basically left with no option than to French kiss.  This made the task even harder.  However, we eventually accomplished the mission and the game went on smoothly.  I returned home after 7pm and did not mention a word of this to anybody.

The thing about disease is that, during it’s incubation period, the pathogen behaves like a baby and most of the time does not reer its ugly head till it has caused enough damage.

Well, several days elapsed and I was still reminiscing the event without any sense of regret till I woke up one morning feeling less than a fiddle.

At first, I thought it was just a flu.

Then, I began to have a fever, sore throat and swollen glands around my neck. It was like a plague.

I was taken to the hospital and quarantine after a thorough hospital examination.  I was asked a few questions about who I had been in contact with.

It took me a long time to narrate the whole story to the doctor.  In the end, it was revealed that the girl I kissed may have acquired the Epstein-Barr virus during the course of her life but this virus may be still dormant in her and that was why she did not show any symptoms.

I was diagnosed with infectious mononucleosis.

Some people call it glandular fever, Pfeiffer’s disease, Filatov’s disease. Others also call it the kissing disease because it can be contracted through contact with saliva.  But however you choose to call it, it does not take away the horrible feeling of being quarantined and barred from playing any sport lest I end up with a ruptured spleen, although unlikely.

As if that was not enough, I earned the nickname mono (short form of mononucleosis) and Lisa had a good laugh as well because I refused to tell her when she asked about how I spent that day with the boys.

I was put on some medications: Paracetamol (to relieve the pain),  an antibiotic (to prevent secondary bacterial infections), an anti-inflammatory agent along with two other drugs. I got better each day but I would rather prefer to describe my victory over this disease as a Pyrrhic one.

Bottom line – my first kiss landed me a spot in the isolation ward.  Who knows where unprotected sex would have landed me?  Don’t get me wrong – kissing as well as sex, has some great merits as well as demerits.

I am sure you have heard about the ABC rule from time immemorial.  Make sure each contact you make during this season of love is a protective and wise one. The ball is in your court; however you decide to play is up to you.

Stay safe during this Valentine season.

This is a continuation of the series from this author.

 

The series continues. Naa Adzoa can be reached on naabd61@yahoo.com or her blogadzeleydeluxy.wordpress.com

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Do we all speak football?

Published on: 08 February 2016.

Picture :Kevin Prince Boateng
“Look at a football field. It looks like a big movie screen. This is theatre. Football combines the strategy of chess. It’s part ballet. It’s part battleground, part playground. We clarify, amplify and glorify the name with our footage, the narration and that music, and in the end create an inspirational piece of football,” says Steve Sabol (an American sports filmmaker).

Football is undoubtedly, a beautiful game and I couldn’t agree more with Simon Kuper (a British author) when he said : “It seems that soccer tournaments create those relationships – people gathered together in pubs and living rooms, a whole country suddenly caring about the same event. A World Cup is the sort of common project that otherwise barely exists in modern societies.”

Let’s face it – we all experience that euphoria during tournaments especially but of what use is this feeling to us if we treat each other unequally? Yes, euphoria is transient and I believe racism should be too if not long gone.

In April 2006, FIFA launched a “Say not to racism campaign”. The main aim was to tackle racism with special regard to international issues.

But are we just following those pre – match formalities when people of different colours converge at one venue with one aim but with different stereotypes, or when footballers of different nationalities exchange flags before a game, or even when children from different backgrounds parade the “Say no to racism banner” while racism still dwells with us.

Liverpool's Italian striker Mario Balotelli holds a "Respect" anti-racism banner before kick off of the UEFA Champions League, group B, football match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at Anfield in Liverpool, northwest England, on October 22, 2014. AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLIS        (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Or do we say no to racism just by shaking hands in front of the cameras and later fight each other and use derogatory remarks?

Let’s not pretend. Racism is not a thing of the past and the sooner we deal with this canker, the better for us.

Here are a few examples on how dirty racism can get.

Samuel Eto’o (an award-winning Cameroonian footballer) had to endure being chanted at like a monkey by Real Zaragoza spectators during a match for FC Barcelona.

In addition to that, the fans threw peanuts at him whenever he was in possession of the ball.

Eto’o was at the verge of leaving the pitch in the middle of the game but the timely intervention of his team – mates and the referee succeeded in calming the enraged Eto’o down.

Eto’o later got back at those fans by dancing like a monkey after Barcelona’s win. The referee (Fernando Carmen Mendez) failed to mention this incident and wrote his report as though everything went on normally.

The culprit spectators were later identified by fellow spectators, handed over to the police, fined for unacceptable behaviour and banned from attending sports events for five months. But can we say that justice was served?

In Zambia, the owner of Lusaka Dynamos, experienced a lot of racist remarks due to his Indian heritage.

This occurred at a time that he was running for president of the Football Association of Zambia.

Oguchi Onyewu ( a Nigerian born in America) aside being punched and shouted at by racist fans (while he was playing for Standard Liège) has also endured racist remarks from the likes of Jelle Van Damme who called him a “dirty ape” on several occasions during the 2008 and 2009 Championship playoff despite his complaints to the referees.

Ghana and Uruguay

As expected, Van Damme vehemently denied ever calling Onyewu a ‘dirty ape’. Instead, he claimed to have used the words ‘dirty Flemish’. But does being black automatically mean that one is dirty? Is it a crime to black?

When Felix Dja Ettien first signed for Levante, the coach ignored him due to his lack of fluency in the Spanish Language.

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The most pathetic part of his abuse is that he was accused of having either AIDS or malaria whenever he fell sick.

Does African descent automatically predispose an individual to disease? Or does the ‘A’ in ‘Africa’ stand for AIDS? How sure are we when we say AIDS originated from Africa?

It is completely wrong to think that Africa is an AIDS or Malaria-stricken continent.

Oh! Remember how Delta represented Ghana in their tweet during the World Cup soccer game in which USA beat Ghana by a 2-1 score – line.

Fine, the statue of Liberty is exclusive to the United States of America. But if there are no giraffes in Ghana, why represent Ghanaians by a giraffe then? Or does this imply that all citizens of African Countries have animal-like characteristics?

Despite the fact that Delta airlines removed that tweet (claiming that they had no knowledge of the fact that giraffes are not found in Ghana), it still doesn’t erase the racist picture they painted.

Any discrimination or attack on an individual or a group of people based on skin colour is racist and must be frowned upon.

In female football, there is less racism which is relatively good as Tasha (a Chelsea fan) said: “The tribalism you get in the men’s game, just isn’t really there in the women’s game.” So what are the women doing differently from the men?

Well, there isn’t an absolute answer to this particular question but it can be deduced that racism is not an involuntary action after all; meaning that it is a deliberate attempt on making someone of a different skin colour feel inferior.

Racism can be brought to an end but it would have to start with each individual effort. This is not a one – man battle.

Several footballers on the pitch respond to racist remarks differently. For example, the likes of Kevin Prince Boateng would choose to walk off the pitch.

But I would like to refer to Dani Alves’ response as a very classic reaction to racism.

It was a sweet victory (3-2) win for Barcelona at Villareal. But this win did not come without a lot of drama ;Dani Alves had a fan throw a banana at him while he was about to take a corner.

Contrary to everyone’s expectation, Dani picked up the banana, ate it and eventually scored a goal in that match.

Many people expected Dani to be enraged but after the match, the unruly behaviour of the fan rather led to an anti – racism ‘banana movement’ when players like Sergio Aguero and Marta posted photos of themselves on Twitter eating bananas to show their support for Alves.

Barcelona also showed Alves a lot of solidarity.

Dani Alves is also quoted to have said, “I don’t know who it was, but thanks to whoever threw the banana, the potassium gave me the energy for the two crosses which led to a goal.”

As interesting as some of these racism situations may be, we must all keep in mind that racism would continue to coexist with us if a conscious effort is not made to halt it.

Ian Holloway (Blackpool manager) in his post match interview after Jason Euell had been subjected to racial abuse said: ” We are all human beings and Jason is a footballer. The colour of his skin shouldn’t matter.”

People who speak the same language are supposed to live in unity and not hate each other. When we learn to kick racism out of the pitch, it is only then that we can boldly say that :”We all speak football”.

Let’s all learn to show racism the Red Card.

By: Naa Adzoa Adzeley Boi-Dsane.