Linda Chebet Kirui, a model was about to graduate when she suffered a stroke that left her paralysed.
She shares her story.
Tell us about yourself.
My name is Linda Chebet Kirui, founder of Chelyn 254 Foundation, Miss Peace Trans Nzoia County, a believer, a go-getter, graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Education (English/Literature) and now living with a disability. I am a hawker, selling shoes both wholesale and retail.
Tell us about the stroke and paralysis.
Who even gets paralysed on the eve of their graduation? I had just finished my rehearsal and went to sleep early so that I would be up on time the following day for my graduation.
I started having a headache, and vomiting and couldn’t feel the left part of my body. I just thought maybe I needed to sleep and I called my dad because the feeling was so strange.
In my entire life, I had never heard of such a disease so I knew I would be okay but by 3 pm it was worse. I couldn’t feel my left side at all, I even thought that I was sleeping with someone else. My left body was so cold that my uncle Michael Chemingwa came and took me to Moi University dispensary where I was given some injections, and I slept.
When I woke up, I saw my family; they had come for my graduation, my gown was brought but I was unable to walk. They quickly forgot about the graduation and rushed me to Moi Teaching and Referral Memorial wing where doctors said I had a stroke.
How did this sudden development affect you?
To imagine I am a model and we love looking good. When I got a stroke, I looked like I had just risen from the dead. My looks changed and it almost crushed my self-esteem, thanks to Gogo Rose and my dad who helped me regain my confidence.
Psychologically, I couldn’t even imagine that I am paralysed and can’t do most things. I had many sleepless nights after a Google search showed me stroke patients don’t live for more than six months. This only added to my suffering. I used to cry myself to sleep and question God.
How did your parents and relatives react to this development?
At first, my parents were scared. Who attends their child’s graduation only to get them at the hospital? Paralysed? My mother was the most affected, and at some point, I was the stronger one. But my dad was the strongest, he has seen me through my darkest moments.
I have the best relatives in the whole world. They have made it easier for me despite the fact that they don’t know the cause of the stroke.
They have never made me feel bad about it.
I remember when I started my physiotherapy and at some point, I stopped going. Whenever I went for the sessions, the doctors would look at the medical report and question me.
I’m still young and the medical report itself wasn’t clear. So I stopped going to the sessions that were in Kitale.
My dad understood my struggles and he kept explaining to me my condition and making me understand. That’s how I started my healing journey. My doctors have been the best – they have made me realise that I am unique.
Did you, your relatives or others in your social circle suspect witchcraft in this incident?
I don’t believe in witchcraft; I am a Christian. A lot has been said about my condition. If it’s witchcraft, then it’s because God allowed it to happen. God had the capabilities of stopping this but since He allowed it to happen then He has His own reason; so I am trusting the process.
How are you coping at the moment?
It has not been easy. I miss putting on my heels and swinging my imaginary hips. Right now I can’t do many things on my own, I depend on people. I can’t even eat some of my favourite food, but I have learnt how to accept my condition.
I am now abled differently and I have to work extra hard to be like “normal” people, so I have to be extra keen and calculate my moves.
I started trading online since I couldn’t do many things like other humans. I saved and opened a nail parlour and salon. And being a PLWD and still healing I couldn’t do many other hustles.
Tell us about Chelyn 254.
I started the foundation because I really wanted to help people. We have been doing a lot of things but, I haven’t achieved my goals, I have not been able to reach people the way I had planned. Now that I am a PLWD I want to make them feel loved, I want to make sure that I’m the voice of PLWD. This is why I started Chelyn 254.