This past April I spent seven days in the hospital for a sickle cell crisis. his hospitalization was my first since December 2013 – I had been crisis free for five years.
This is a big deal for anyone living with sickle cell, especially for me – someone who spent most of her childhood in and out of the hospital. I was in the hospital so much I became friends with my nurses and doctors. I even grew accustomed to hospital food (ahh Taco Tuesdays, Pizza Fridays).
Prior to the hospitalization, I felt like my life was ‘good’. I finally had a job that did not stress me out, I was getting SNATCHED, I was planning on moving out of my parents’ home. And then BOOM I was in the hospital.
This really took a toll on my mental health. I truly believed I was healed, I was just waiting for God to change my blood type. Yeah, I still got a little pain here and there but nothing that over the counter Tylenol couldn’t take care of most times. During the hospitalization, I began to question my actions. Had I strayed away from God’s light? Was I being punished for not being as devoted as I thought I was? Did I somehow disappoint my Maker, and this was Their way of getting my attention?
To make matters worse, this was the height of Trump’s war on opioids. This not only limited access narcotics for those suffering from addiction but also patients like myself that actually need it. Not many people that look like me are treated at Hospital-that-Shall-Not-Be-Named; it’s not a very diverse place. I’ve been to the ER at that hospital a few times in the past, but I have never been treated that badly by a hospital – ever. Doctors refused to prescribe medicine that would have expedited my recovery, which is why I ended up being hospitalized for so long. I was accused of seeking drugs and of being an addict. I know I am not an addict but these accusations still hit me. These accusations are not uncommon for people with sickle cell to experience.
With little energy or motivation to do much else, I spent my time scrolling through YouTube during my waking hours. After watching countless beauty tutorials, sermons, and vlogs, YouTube recommended one of Evelyn from the Internet’s VEDA videos to me and for the first time all week, I smiled. I clicked on another and another and before I knew it, I had watched almost all 30 videos and was audibly laughing. I wasn’t thinking about how much life sucked at the moment. I was just a Nigerian girl laughing with my new internet best friend Evelyn.
In one video that really spoke to me, Evelyn speaks about what she feels is her responsibility as a YouTuber. She’s here to make her internet friends laugh. There’s so much going on in the world, she’s not the one who will dissect the news in the name of the preservation of her own joy. Her job is to make sure your favorite woke internet personality has somewhere they too can unwind.
Evelyn – THANK YOU for doing what you were called to do. Thank you for handing me a virtual Capri Sun when I really needed it most. Thank you for encouraging me and decreasing my guilt of NOT being a news junkie. Thank you for affirming my pursuit of art and creating an escape for people. Society and especially African society can make art seem “useless” (sucks teeth).
To Evelyn, Luvvie, Liza, Jackie, Casey, and other creative entrepreneurs who are “just making videos online” or “creating content” know that your work is reaching those who need it most. That three-minute video (that took an hour to plan and an hour to record and another two to edit) is the difference between someone on their sick bed crying tears of laughter and instead of tears of sadness. That laughter then brings them out of their depression a little bit.
Thank you for encouraging immigrant twenty-somethings like me to know it’s okay to “selfishly” make art; to work on your passion even if you’re still a nurse or technologist. Internet creators are the light that the world needs. Thank you and continue creating with reckless abandon.
Your internet cousin, Bukky