Jane Mwangi flashed a big old smile as I walked towards her; this was the first time we were meeting. Her high spirits and easy personality had us chatting up like old friends. I was eager to learn what keeps Jane Motivated and so hopeful given all that she had been through. Jane Mwangi’s life took a drastic turn on Saturday May 28, 2015 when she was robed and shot.
E. At what point did you make a conscious decision that I will walk again?
J. As I lay on the hospital bad day and day out looking up at the hospital celling for hours on end, that’s when I said to myself Jane you will walk again, you have to walk again do not be doomed to a life on the wheelchair. Don’t get me wrong, I mean knew I can live a fulfilling life on a wheelchair I just feel like it will stifle my dreams. And I know I am being made for big things and I cannot do them while on this wheelchair.
E. Do you have a game plan?
J. “Honestly, I didn’t have a game plan but my faith carried me through, my faith in God even before the accident is what kept me focus. The bible tells me that God is the same today tomorrow and forever more. If God was able to bless me all my life with so many favors, this was definitely not the time to let go of God, because I know he would never let go of me. This is just a hurdle on my life’s journey I know that God has a plan for me. As I lay in that bed, something kept whispering, “ be still and know that I am God,” those words kept me going I knew that even though I am laying in that bed, in pain there there was something bigger coming.
E. What role have you friends played so far?
J. My friends showed up in a big way, they used to visit two at a time throughout the day it would get to a point the nurses would even tell them, “she needs a break she’s tired”. Even when I was in the ICU they were still allowed to visit there was no moment where I felt like I was alone. My family, friends, and boyfriend they kept me going and they still do.
E. What you’re going through is hard, how do you deal with the hard days?
J. To be honest, I do have a lot of hard days, we call them “low days” I would be lying if I said that it’s sunshine all the time, and it’s not at all. In the beginning the biggest challenge was the bowel and bladder incontinence, try imagine, as a grown woman having to wear a diaper or having someone change it while they clean you, now that can take you to a new low.
E. I can only imagine, what about now?
J. Nowadays, the challenge is my daily activity, when I wake up in the morning I have to strategize on how to get from the bed to the wheelchair and then stay the wheelchair until I go to therapy, getting into the car is a chore all on it’s own and by the time I am calling it a night, I am so exhausted. You see, with the spinal cord injury your body is simply not functioning the way it should, for instance my body temperature fluctuates randomly. I am learning to adjust to the new reality that I am living in, even if it’s for just a short time.
E. Do you have a support system for the low days?
J. I have a few friends who are living with spinal cord injuries that I met after mine happened; they are they ones I reach out to during those low moments. I realize that no matter how much I pray, and stay positive, those low days are going to happen. For instance, I’ll get a call from one of my friends and when he says “today is one of my low days, “ I tell him it’s gonna pass,” and he knows that I totally understand him.
E. Yeah, if you told me that your having a low day I would probably empathize with you and promptly try to do something to cheer you up – I really wouldn’t be able to fully understand what you are going through or what you need.
J. Yes, some of my other friends would default to cheering me up buy suggesting we watch a movie or something like that to keep me busy.
E. It’s great that you have a support system to deal with the low days.
J. Yes, and I don’t know if it’s just me but I’ve become so much more emotional. Nowadays, if I see something on TV about flooding or a tragedy, I feel so much more emotionally than I would have before. But I think it’s because now I can really relate to other people’s pain now better than I could before.
E. Absolutely! Now, let’s change gears for a minute, It was approximately 16 hours before you received any medical attention, are you distraught by the state of the medical system in Kenya?
J. It is a very sad, but not an impossible situation. Although I do look back and wonder what, “if they had seen me immediately would I still have gotten the spinal cord injury? Wouldn’t be as bad as it is now? Would I have been at that wheelchair?” Probably not and I realize that this is the case for so many people in Kenya who are living in all manner of conditions so to answer your question, yes! I do get angry and I think I’m entitled to my anger.
E. Indeed you are!
J. Yes, we need some policies to change; healthcare reforms, bad doctors and nurses need to be fired! A lot needs to happen. I pray to God to give us leaders who are going to truly effect some changes in Kenya and that’s my prayer every day.
E. I couldn’t agree more! Sounds like this awakened an activist in you?
J. Yes I believe so! I’m still trying to understand why God kept me alive; I do believe I am here for a purpose. And right now, it’s to be a champion for the change that Kenya your needs.
E. Very well said Jane. Yes, you can defiantly use this hurdle in your life to champion a great change in Kenya.
J.I keep saying I’m going to make some noise I’m not gonna shut up! Because while lying on that hospital bed for 16 long hours, I was a victim, but because I am alive today that makes me a survivor and I cannot keep quiet. People need to know the state of the medical system in Kenya and someday things will change for the better.
E. Tell me about Nelly the neighbor who came to your rescue that night; what was the first thing you told him when you saw him after the incident?
J. Yes, he is a big reason as to why I am alive today; my parents told me that he was the one who found me, when I saw him after the incident, the first thing I said to him was, “oh my God how am I ever going to repay you!” From that moment forward we have definitely grown closer as friends.
E. On your blog, you wrote a piece, “America be kind to me” has it?
J. Yes, it has in more ways that I could count! I feel like I have been adopted into a community. I couldn’t be more grateful!
E. How are you handling the newfound fame and popularity?
J. At times I would question God for making me popular through such a horrific incident. A friend of mine however told me, “No Jane, God is using you to show himself. God uses that which is not pretty by human standards to show himself, “and hear I am on ABC news, blogs, newspapers, radio stations and so on – it is pretty amazing how God works!
E. Yes it is! You are now an inspiration to others, how does that make you feel?
J. It looks like God had something bigger in mind for me, back in Kenya I used to sing in the church choir and I thought this must be my purpose, but now I see that God had something bigger in mind.
E. How do you manage your expectations?
J. I ask God to lead the way, I read books by others who have gone through similar ordeals and I am often reminded neither to be afraid nor to get ahead of myself, just to take it a day at a time.
E. Final thoughts?
J. We all need to remember that no one can live in isolation there will come a time when one needs their brother, sister, neighbor or countryman. The community here in the US and back home have shown me how united we are. It is great to see that the Harambee spirit still lives on.
Jane continues to go to Baylor for rehab and outpatient therapy.
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