In Nigeria, every state has a commisioner for health. Such a person is often a medical doctor, or someone in the medical profession. If he or she is a doctor, it is mostly someone who has let politics distract him from practicing. He may not have lost all his skills, but his intuition and judgement may have been dulled by the pursuit of power. You see, politics is the easiest way to become rich in Nigeria. The top positions are often controlled by poorly educated, greedy, vicious men. To get along with them, you may have to become like them.
At the time of this incident, I was on duty in the hospital I have described in a previous post. It was the best private hospital in the capital of a Niger deltan state known to be ravaged by militancy at the time. At about 1pm, this very classy SUV screeches in. The driver runs out and tells us he has an emergency. I run there to find a girl of about 3 years, quite lethargic (weak), and feverish. We carry her to the A&E and commence treatment while I get the history.
Turns out she was the daughter of the state commissioner for health. The driver and nanny were picking her up from school, when she convulsed. They immediately brought her to us. Of course they didn’t have a dime but I never bother with such cases. I know the parents will show up, so I spare no expense. For the children of the poor, I have to be creative and think of the best but cheapest care.
We admitted her, sent for laboratory tests and set up an IV infusion. Then I called my MD. I knew he would have my neck if her father arrived and he wasn’t there to show off. Show off, he did! By the time her father arrived, with his wife, their security detail (armed to the teeth), and 2 pediatricians, we were prepared. We had also invited our own pediatrician. You needed to see these “specialists”, struggling to impress their juniour colleague(the commissioner)!lol.
I had only 2 years experience but I knew the case was just a matter of neglect. Febrile convulsion is a seizure caused by an illness characterized by high fevers. Examples of such are Severe Malaria, Urinary tract infections, and Pneumonia among others. If the primary infection is not nipped in the bud early, the high temperatures cause convulsion. You can have temperatures as high as 40ºc and above(normal is about 36.5ºc to 37.2ºc). The simple solution is to bring the temperature down and treat the ailment. Note that if the child is still convulsing, you simply remove harmful objects around till she is calm. Then you drive to the hospital. If the seizure occurs there, they know what to do. In this case, the seizure had abated before presentation. I only had to lower her temperature and then commence treatment.
What do I mean she was neglected? Before an illness causes seizure, it would have ravaged the child for 1to 3 days. It never starts suddenly. For a medical doctor’s child to be ill and it took the nanny and driver to intervene, is unbelievable. Note that both parents were both in town. Her father kept insisting she was fine that morning. The Malaria test result of 3+ (a very high titre), proved our case. My MD told him off politely, before going on to praise me (haha), and his other staff for our excellent work.
They didn’t stay long. Her mother and brother had previously spent days in the kidnapper’s den. They were so afraid. Armed personnel were stationed at strategic positions during their 3 or 4 hour stay. We were thrilled by all the excitement! It was like an FBI movie. Having to walk past armed security before seeing a patient; And someone said hospitals are boring?
Lessons. Your vocation is your pulpit. What ever gifts and talents come from your training, they should impact your family and friends. My husband’s training makes him very good with planning and budgeting. It has become my 2nd nature. If a relative calls to ask him for money, rather than just give it, he analyzes what they are using it for, and helps them come up with a better plan. Most people get their act together before approaching him because he always asks tough questions.
Are you a caterer? How come your children don’t have your habit of waking up early? Are you a teacher? What impact are you making outside your classroom? Are you an architect? Why hasn’t your creativity impacted your friends’ dress sense? To end the story, the little girl was discharged and I never saw her again. I believe her parents learned their lesson.
Today, take a look around you. There may be more to it than a mindless pursuit of wealth and acceptance. Cheers, Dr, N.