And I Really Thought I Had Cancer (Yet Another True Story)

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Several years ago I started experiencing an excruciating pain in my shoulders and elbows. As a writer who spends most of his social life on the computer this was not unexpected.

But what was different about this pain was that it occurred only on the left side of my shoulder. And the pain was so sharp that often times I would not be able to write at all. It was like a rat was biting at my bones…it hurt!

My remedy was to yell out and cry like a baby buy a padded elbow sleeve which I wrapped tightly around my left elbow .This seemed to reduce the pain and allowed me to write without feeling like I was being stabbed in the back.

But the patch did not kill the pain completely, I still felt tingles and a peculiar muscle movement sensation in my left shoulder … right behind my shoulder-blade. It was as if something was moving in my shoulder. It was so scary and so vivid that I thought I had an alien baby a cancer tumor in my shoulder! I kid you not.

Maybe it was the cancer causing the pain? Maybe I would need to cut off my left shoulder? Or maybe go to chemotherapy and lose all my hair?

I was scared, but not like the I am going to die scared, but rather the what if I lose my left hand and have to type one-handed scared.

Anyway I made it a point to tell every medical doctor that I saw about the pain in my shoulder. I tried to describe it as vividly as possible and with slight exaggeration just so that they would realize that my condition was serious and that the cancer could kill me!

But they all said the same thing…take some anti-inflammatory and go get a massage.

WTF! Massage? This cancer is killing me and all they could suggest was a flimsy massage? 10 years of medical school and they could not tell that a tumor was forming in my shoulder? Not even an X-ray or an MRI. Just a massage and some over the counter drugs.

But everywhere it was the same message, the doctor in Houston said the same thing as the doctor in Lagos. But the way the pain hurt so sharply, I knew that something else was wrong.

I would take the anti-inflammatory’s, I will massage my shoulders , I would use icy hot (aka Yankee Robb), I would wear the elbow wrap all at the same time but after 2-3 hours of writing the pain will suddenly shoot to my left shoulder and elbow.

I was screwed…if this was happening at 30 something what would happen when I was 50 or 60? How would I write?

So I just kept managing and writing in pain…until I met this young Doctor from UNIBEN. I knew he was from UNIBEN because he had this swagger that only Benin boys can have…I can’t explain it but it is just there…the benin boy swagger. My cousins from Benin all had it.

It was an annual medical check and as had become my tradition I told him about the pain in my left arm. Like all the other doctors he pressed the shoulder and asked me if it hurt here or there and then concluded that it was not cancer just muscular pain.

But then like all the others, I told him how the pain felt so sharp that it hurt. And that’s when he paused and started asking if I do anything that might be triggering the pain. Aside from writing and eating gala I could not think of anything else that could be triggering the pain.

But then the Doctor told me to diligently observe what exactly I am doing when the pain starts….and then bounced away…

So I started. I started observing everything. What I was eating when it happened, what Babe I was thinking about, the room temperature, everything. And then one day (several months later from my Doctor visit) I was sitting at Starbucks and the pain hit me so hard I nearly passed out. And that’s when I realized that my sharpest pains occur whenever I am at Starbucks.

Was it the coffee? Or the sexy barrister arousing the pain? And then it hit me in the ass nyash…literarily!


My Ass Pillow At Starbucks

Starbucks only had hard chairs. Harder than the ones used in Secondary school. Brown wooden chairs and every time I would sit down, the left side of my nyash would hurt..sharply. It was as if I was basically pinching a nerve there. Actually I was pinching a nerve but what I did not realize was that that pain in my ass/nyash was also responsible for the pain in my left arm. I had no idea that my pinched nyash nerve was connected to my elbow and shoulder nerves!

Who would have thought! That I had been sitting down on my pain for years!

I adjusted my position and sat down with only the right side of my nyash and guess what…the pain was gone! Crazy!

Now whenever I go to Starbucks I bring a pillow with me, I am also now eating more carbs to help pad up my nyash with fat so that I will not need a pillow when I turn 60.

So what is the moral of the story?

Aside from the fact that nerves are interconnected all over the body. The other lesson is that sometimes the pain we experience at a particular place in life (my left shoulder) might be triggered by something seemingly unrelated (my left nyash).

So maybe that shitty boss at work might be the one causing your mood swings at home and maybe that sweet awesome wife at home is the one that helps you get through a shitty job. You just never know…shit interconnects.

And the most important lesson of all, not all problems are as complex as they seem. I thought I had cancer when all I had was a pain in My Ass!

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twitterWritten and Acted By Okechukwu Ofili of
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Words by Okechukwu Ofili of
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35 comments on “And I Really Thought I Had Cancer (Yet Another True Story)

  1. Even Goliath in the bible was just big for nothing and it was just a stone from smallie David that killed the mighty Goliath.###Not all problems are as complex as they seem,we need to simplify them…

  2. Fortune on said:

    ℓσℓ.. Very funny. But we nigerians self ehn, we’ve read too much bad health related news and watched too much movies, that we think any small issue is bigger than everest. Thank God sha twas just yansh pain.

  3. I’m glad you’re ok now, health scares are not funny. Apt message as usual, trust you to give us awesomely inspiring posts from your deepest fears. Laughed hard when I saw ‘uniben swagger’, we dey always represent, and it’s not just the boys ;-p
    Adaeze latest post is No mosquitoes in heavenMy Profile

  4. Sarah B on said:

    Lol. Very interesting and funny. Thank God it was just a nyansh related pain and not cancer. The moral of this is so true, I experience it almost everyday.

  5. Owen Adubor on said:

    I look forward to reading your blog daily. To me it’s like my daily tonic in words and not liquid. Always full of interesting and wise food for thoughts!

  6. Theodore Nwankwo on said:

    “Aside from writing and eating gala…” “what Babe I was thinking about” THOSE EXPRESSIONS THOUGH…hilarious. How did gala come to your head at that time? nice one.

  7. This is an important lesson for me because I tend to have health scares a lot and when I later find out what is causing whatever pain I’m having, I almost slap myself in the face. Still doesn’t stop me from having health scare next time. Smh.

    Don’t worry, we are re-tweeting, re-pinning and the likes. Your gone shoulder pain wouldn’t be for nothing. By the way, I tried to follow you on twitter but didn’t find you. What’s your twitter handle please?
    Matey Scott latest post is Umbilical bond.My Profile

  8. sandra mbanaso on said:

    ofili ooo! you wont kill me. morale of the story….. noted pls. More grease to that elbow of yours! : )

  9. Te he he! Really hilarious, as usual an interestingly funny read and oh so true.i’m sure we all have had our own experiences!all in all i,m glad it was only a’ nyash’ problem though! Wishin you many more writing days.

  10. “You just never know… Shit interconnects”. The blog’s If You Don’t Laugh, You’ll Think objective have not been deviated from unlike some other blogs.

    Keep the good work up, sir.

  11. Asanwa Gbugu on said:

    This was hilarious. But for real, lay off the gala and eat real food (so your ass can grow) so you can be healthy. Maybe this is a sign that you need that wife to help with your meals so you can pad up. Like u said ish connects, lol

  12. Chai, Ofili my love. Ngwa, bia kpoje m Starbucks ahu, ka anyi luo ogu. Wetin dem mean na? Na your writing shoulder dem wan dislocate? Which kain bad belle be dat?

  13. I remember having pains in the groins as a kid and the doctor said it is because I have a bruise/sore elsewhere. Lo and behold, once the bruise/sore heals up, no more pains. I think that occurrence is called Referred Pain Syndrome, I stand to be corrected though. Well done ofili, true words you wrote there. There’s an underlying reason why certain things are happening we just need to be observant. Imagine if you had started chemotherapy.

  14. You just never ever know… Shit interconnects”. The actual blog’s In case you Don’t Chuckle, You’ll Consider aim have not been deviated via not like a few other weblog.

  15. OMG, Ofili, you’re hilarious. I just relived my UI days in the English Dept. Something about the way you write brought up old memories. I’ve had this in my mail all along but only just had time to read it up today. Thank God I did not “mark as spam”. Lol. Kudos to you.

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