In medicine, there are abilities a child should develop at each stage of life. These are called milestones. At birth, the baby would be noticed to have a ‘dangling head’, be unable to sit, stand or crawl. By 3 months, he should hold his head upright. Teething usually occurs by 6 months, and many babies will sit between 6 to 9 months. A professional can tell if there is a delay, or the baby is just taking his sweet time to achieve these abilities.
This particular patient came in with her 11 month old son. He had a wound that needed to be dressed. Why would an 11 month old have a wound so deep it needed to be dressed in the hospital, I wondered. She deflected my questions, insisting that the nurse should not touch the child.
“So who will dress the wound? She’s the most experienced nurse here and you usually get along with her”, I asked.
“She offended me. I asked her to come and dress it at home and she refused”
“Let me see the wound”
Reluctantly, she let me open the ulcer on her son’s hip. I stiffled an exclamation.
“I brought a native healer to massage his legs so that he would start walking. She tied a bandage on his legs to ‘bring out his nyash’. After 2 days, I noticed it was too tight and loosened it. That’s when I saw the wound. I even poured tetracycline on it”, she narrated.
Dear muse, I was screaming mentally! What! Don’t wait for me to interpret the pidgin, I can’t. You may google it.
Now, a brief background. She was not only educated, but well to do, and married to an educated and wealthy man as well. This was her 2nd child. I cannot fathom why she believed it was abnormal for him to be unable to walk at 11 months.
“Why didn’t you bring him to us, if you were worried?”
“Eh, I wanted him to start walking. The lady said her method would work”
“Can he sit?”
“Can he stand? ”
“Does he attempt to walk with support? ”
“Yes, but his legs are weak. He often falls”
“But you have a 3 year old daughter. Why were you so worried?”
She kept giving excuses. I told her the nurse was right to refuse to come to her house as such a wound should be dressed in the hospital. It was a large ulcer and already had some dead tissue, coloured yellow by the tetracycline. She was not convinced.
To every parent, please ask a doctor what to expect. Google is great but, you may need an assurance if there is cause for concern. Neighbours and friends will give you conflicting information.
Money can make you wish for everyone to be at your beck and call. Can you pay for your child to start walking early? Perhaps she wanted to be independent; No more lugging him around. The higher you go, the cooler it should become. However, do not let your achievements or wealth become a trap for you. Remain level headed.
Sometimes, I park my car and take a walk or ride in the 3 -wheelers (we call keke). I don’t want to forget that I am not any better than others. Death will come to us all. That certain luxuries are ours, should not becloud our sense of judgement.
So, I ask, do you remember where you came from? Cheers, Dr. N