I have mentioned in a previous post how averse Nigerians are to visiting orthopaedic hospitals because they fear their limbs will be amputated for no just cause. They prefer the traditional bone setters who offer you care for the fractures medical doctors refuse to ‘patch up’. At the time this happened, I was working for an orthopaedic surgeon. He was an excellent doctor, so we got lots of referrals from others.
A man was brought in unconscious. The doctor who admitted him told me later that he was brought in by some of his church members. I enquired whether he collapsed in church and he said no. The patient was an ‘elder’ in the church. He had complained of ill health and so they took him to their church, (location unknown), for serious prayers. His wife and children did not even know where he was. During the prayer session (which lasted several weeks), they observed he was getting weaker. At the point that he became comatose, they rushed him to the hospital intending to drop him and scurry off, like rats deserting a sinking ship. In fact, they called his relatives to come and take him away as he was close to death. It was his elder brother who agreed to pay his bills before they brought him. While trying to figure out the cause of his coma, his blood glucose level was found to be extremely high. Medication was commenced to correct this but, he kept slipping in and out of consciousness. His wife was not in the picture, his relatives were busy quarrelling amongst themselves, the church members prayed much but, would not cough out money for his drugs. It was frustrating. When you as a professional try to hold up the banner of Christ at work and others rubbish your efforts, you just feel like booting them out!
This man was brought in as a new patient and no one could give his past medical history. He had an injury on his right thumb which was causing the flesh of that hand to decay so, we were dressing the wound as well. 2 days into his stay, a doctor who had been on leave came into the ward and recognized him. It turns out the patient was a highly placed official in the local government and quite rich. His financial contribution to the church caused them to appoint him as an elder. He was so honoured and revered, he began to believe the hype. Soon, they convinced him his wife was plotting his downfall. They had him eating out of their hands because they knew how to stroke his ego. This doctor said he presented with a hand injury he sustained while fishing. When he mentioned he was diabetic, he was offered in-patient care, in order to prevent gangrene. He refused and left with some oral medication.
Few days later, the hand injury was getting putrid, he kept lasping back into coma after being conscious for some hours, his blood glucose was fluctuating. An Internal physician reviewed the case and suggested amputation of the thumb. This, he said, would enable us control all the other symptoms. Let me explain a bit. Infections and diabetes have a complicated relationship. Diabetes makes patients prone to infections because the increased blood sugar creates an enabling environment for bacteria and other organisms. As the bible says, where the carcass lies, vultures will gather. Diabetes also compromises the blood supply to certain parts of the body, especially the feet and hands. Healing is a function of the blood, as antibodies and other defense mechanism are transported by the blood. For this reason, their injuries are more difficult to treat.
Of course, both the family and church refused the amputation. We were weary of battling for his life. He kept me awake many nights, moaning in pain. The nurses were sick of cleaning his hand which was quite foul smelling, and the gangrene was spreading. Finally, we asked them to make a decision or take him elsewhere. Believe me, each time an instruction was given, the church would give their opinion, then the brothers, then the kinsmen. In all this, we never met his wife.
After about a week, they gave permission for the amputation of his right thumb. It was too late though. He died anyway. Immediately, the brothers went to his employers to get his benefits. They were asked to get a death certificate. We refused to give it to them until his wife showed up. A young lady of 25 or less, she and her children were kept in the dark till he died. She was told he was ill and in hospital but not how serious it was or which hospital he was in. They prevented her from speaking to her husband on phone or contacting him in anyway. Ethically, he who pays the piper calls the tune so we could have obliged them but, we kept the death certificate because they exhibited obscure motives.
Note that no one can love you more than you love yourself. Next in line, are your wife and children. Be suspicious of those who try to replace your family. Take your health in your hands, no one should make you feel guilty about seeking help. Prevention is always better than cure. While I prefer divine healing, not everyone will agree to pay the price. That is the reason for the proliferation of false prophets. People want someone else to read the bible on their behalf, pray for them, be holy in their stead. When challenges come, it is the spiritual muscle you have built up that you can use. If you dont have any, or the one you have is tiny, see a doctor and follow his advice, while you build your faith. Be blessed