Prize winning novelist and renowned author, Chimamanda Adichie recounts in a beautiful story, how she fell, had a concussion and her stay in the hospital amidst the pandemic. Chimamanda who has written at least 9 books with numerous awards to her name, tells a very fragile story of her health and in such a beautiful way that we have no other emotion to feel but love.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was playing with her daughter when she fell and hit her head on the hardwood floor. She recounts the confusing and painful injury as well as her experience at the hospital during the pandemic’s “new normal”

“At the beginning of the stay-at-home order, plagued by amorphous anxieties, I taught my daughter how to call my doctor husband at work. Just in case. My daughter says that after I fell I told her, “Call Papa.” My husband says I spoke coherently. I told him that I fell and that the pain in my head was “excruciating,” and when I said “excruciating,” I seemed to wince. He says he asked my daughter to get me the ice pack in the freezer and that I said, “Thank you, baby,” when she gave it to me. Chimamanda recalled.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I do not remember any of this. I found myself upstairs, sitting on my bed, an ice pack pressed to my face, when my husband hurried in, having driven back from work. Later I will imagine him, after my daughter’s call, yanking off his protective equipment, the puffy white suit, the see-through shield over his face; I had fretted when it took a while for his clinic to get the protective wear, and when finally it came I told him he looked like an ungainly robot in it.

“We have to go to the ER,” he said, adding that my brother, working from home about 30 minutes away, will meet us at the hospital to pick up and watch my daughter.

I looked at him, dazed. “Why? What happened?”

I know I fell, but it is a half-lidded knowledge, and I cannot claw through my memory’s haze to reach any clear detail. I feel a profound helplessness, a sense of something slipping away. How did I get here? I am in my husband’s car, driving to the University of Maryland emergency room in Baltimore, and I do not know what happened to me.

“It’s probably just a concussion, but you should get a scan to make sure nothing else is going on,” my husband says.

But why don’t I remember? Why can’t I remember? It feels like a failing, my fault. Chimamanda expresses.

“Your brain is a delicate organ floating inside your skull. You hit your head and your brain jolted,” my husband says, and it is newly astonishing to me, that because of this “jolt,” a slice of my consciousness has disappeared into nothing. We are so fragile. We are so breakable. And yet to navigate this life we must believe that we are not.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I wonder what else I do not remember and, more terrifying, what else I will be unable to remember. My brain is now a stranger. My understanding of myself begins to tilt sideways.

The waiting area of the ER is almost empty, to my surprise, my mind full of stories of the coronavirus bedlam in New York hospitals. There is a kind of ghostliness in the air. 

My first nurse turns out to be a fan of the novels I have written, but I like to think she would have been attentive anyway, bringing me a pain pill and telling wry coronavirus jokes, tattoos spread like art on her arm. She tells me it might be a long wait for my scan. Somewhere in the middle of the six-hour wait my husband, sitting in the car because only patients are allowed inside the ER, texts me to say, “Not the best time to have a bad fall.” Indeed.

How could I have somehow enabled this freak accident? 

“I just fly in the air and land on my face? Why didn’t I break my fall with my hands?” Chimamanda asked her husband and brother but they laughed.

On the drive home, as I folded and refold the generic discharge paper, I felt deflated, unsatisfied but almost apologetically so.

Read full Post at “The Washington Post”.. HERE

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