Most, if not all hospitals in Nigeria, have in their employment, people I call “principalities”. Usually a middle aged woman, chatty, often wearing glasses, and over-bearing. They have no or minimal medical qualification, and often, are responsible for dispensing drugs. Pharmacists don’t come cheap and the drug companies pay better, so few hospitals employ them. Even when they do, they can’t work 24 hours, so Mrs. Know-it-all, comes to the rescue.
They are the ones who spread old wives tales and confuse people. You may have heard someone say “A doctor told me this case is beyond medicine, I should seek a herbalist”. Usually, the recommendation was made by Mrs. Know-it-all. Nigerian movies fall into the trap of promoting theories propagated by such people, and viewers swallow it hook, line, and sinker. They are incredibly persuasive, motherly, caring,insistent, inquisitive, I could go on and on. Next time you meet her, please, give her a tip and walk away. Why tip? That is often what they are after, underneath the veneer of caring. Consider this part 1 of my Mrs. Know-it-all series. Thank me later.
I was walking past the labour ward one day, (this happened a few years ago), when I sensed commotion. 2 ladies were in various stages of labour and a capable nurse was stationed to monitor them. I checked in every hour or so. At that time, I had just finished carrying out an ECG (electrocardiogram), on a patient and was returning to my office. I entered the ward to find a very interesting scenario. The visiting gynaecologist had come in and ruptured the membranes of 1 of the women in labour. This is a process in which the sac that protects the foetus in the womb is broken so as to speed things up. The rule is that it is done in the theatre, and a doctor should be on ground to monitor from that time, as things usually happen very fast. I will never know why no one called me to inform me such a procedure was being carried out, or why she was returned to her room afterwards. Things just went south.
The baby’s head started popping out when the trained nurse had just gone to assist the 2nd woman in labour to ease herself. Guess who she left to monitor things? You guessed right; Mrs Know-it-all! She started attempting to take the delivery herself (afterall she had like 20 years experience), not knowing that it was a macrosomic baby. On the average babies weigh 2.5 to 3.5 kg at birth. Any baby above 4.5 kg is macrosomic.
When I entered the ward, she was struggling to drag out the baby (wearing no gloves), with the mother screaming fearfully. Her sister was standing by the bed, pleading “Blood of Jesus”. Infact, she had to be forced out of the room because, her “blood of Jesus” chants were more important than giving room for me to work. The midwife had rushed to the bed, but was intimidated by (you know who), and just stood there also pleading the blood! I took 1 look, and asked for gloves, then politely nudged Mrs KIA aside. She had almost botched things, so I pushed the baby’s head back and turned it the way I wanted. Because she was very big, it took some tugging, and a generous episiotomy (a cut made to widen the exit) to get her out. Guess what Mrs. KIA was saying, “Doctor, you’ll break her collar bone!”. So that if anything happened, she would be the hero.
I take my faith to work, I don’t leave it in church on sundays. That you don’t hear me plead “The blood of Jesus”, does not mean I’m not praying. I had already decreed “There shall be no loss”, it was time to get to work. In emergencies, doctors go into a strange mode. You will have to forgive us if we shut down emotionally. It’s okay for you to roll on the floor and cry, but imagine if the doctor joined you? No need to say more. That is the 1st and only time I have delivered a baby in the ward(I have delivered a baby in the hallway but that is a story for another day). She ended up weighing 5.2kg, and was hale and hearty last I heard.
Dear muse, please, don’t let Mrs. KIA confuse you. We cannot do without her because, our health care system is immature and underfunded. Her pay is usually very miserable, and she is the only one who will work so hard and cheerfully I might add, for peanuts. Now you know why you should leave her a tip, and discard most of her advice. She actually means well, just doesn’t know any better. Hope you had a great weekend? Stay healthy. Cheers