Hakuna Matata: Part Two

DenaOctober 11, 2011

evolutionyou.net | kenyan child

By the time we finally arrived to the dormitories in Nairobi, we’d been traveling for a full day without sleep. Still, everyone was excited so we headed down to dinner (Kenyan food is the most delicious I’ve ever had — all of it). After dinner, there would be a brief orientation; but I couldn’t make it. I was beyond exhausted and too dizzy to stand. I excused myself to my dorm. Over the next two hours, I would go through one of the darkest experiences of my life.

I wanted to lie down and rest. But that was not going to happen. Despite my exhaustion, my mind was racing. I was in Kenya, thousands of miles away from home. I could barely walk. My heart began to race. The “what ifs” started. What if I get hurt? What if I fall? I shouldn’t have come here. My heart was pounding. I was having a heart attack. My heart was ramming out against my chest. I could feel it, I could hear it. My mind began to spin. I was having a heart attack and I was going to end up in a Kenyan hospital. I was going to need a blood transfusion. I was going to contract HIV. I fell onto my bed and cried. I wanted to die. It would be better to die.

I did not know any of my traveling companions very well at all. I knew the girl that I had driven to the airport with, Nicole, only because she lived near me. She was my only lifeline. I called her and I was hysterical. I told her what was happening, that I was having a heart attack. Her voice was sweet and calm.

“No, you are having a panic attack,” she said. “I’ll be right over.” And she came and talked me down. She had some Xanax leftover from the plane ride. She gave me one. Soon, I came back to reality. She was right. In my life, I thought I’d had panic attacks before. I hadn’t. Not like this anyway. This was the first real panic attack that I ever had, my first night in Kenya. Nicole was my angel.

Lesson 3: Angels come in all forms, shapes, and sizes. Allow them in. Accept their help.

I felt better the next morning. It is amazing what sleep-deprivation can do to the mind. After rest and a good breakfast, I was ready to take on the world (or at least Africa). That day we headed to Fourteen Falls just outside of Nairobi for our first excursion. It was a strenuous hike over rocks. A slight misstep and you could end up in the water. Luckily there were Kenyan boys playing near the falls. One of them held me by the hand & guided me safely along the entire trek. The kindness of strangers.

I was still dizzy, but as the day progressed, my vertigo faded and faded. By that evening, something miraculous happened. When I sat down to dinner — for the first time in a month — I was not dizzy.

For the first time in my life, I had experienced a true miracle. That night, my faith in a higher power was restored. That faith would continue to grow over the rest of my Kenyan journey.

Lesson 4: Faith can be restored at the strangest moments & for the strangest reasons. Never give up hope, no matter what happens.

This is Part 2 of a 4-part series that I will be sharing about my trip to Kenya, Africa. Read Part 3 here. ♥

Comments (4)

  • Lou Mello

    October 11, 2011 at 8:06 am

    I have never had anything resembling a panic attack so I can’t relate to that although it must really have been terrifying. The mind is a very powerful force in our lives and it can be a dark force or it can lead us to light. So glad that you had someone there for you that could help lead you back from the panic and the dark. Until tomorrow, keep taking a step at a time and doing a little good where you can.

    1. Anonymous

      October 11, 2011 at 10:25 am

      Thank you, Lou.  Suffering from anxiety all my life, panic attacks have been all-too-familiar.  However, the one that I had that first night in Nairobi was by far the worst of my life.  It was so bizarre.  I’d heard that a panic attack could feel like a heart attack–but WOW!–I really had no clue.

      Always moving toward the light…

  • Andra Watkins

    October 11, 2011 at 9:51 am

    You are such a brave person, Dena. I cannot wait to read more about your Kenyan trip. 

    1. Anonymous

      October 11, 2011 at 10:39 am

      Many thanks, beautiful Andra.  <3  I try, very hard, to be a brave woman.  Role models like you help me along the path.

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