When I was still single, I had this patient who was middle-aged; a politician with a lot of cash to throw around. The reason he got my number(which I usually withheld) was that I referred him to an ENT specialist and he requested to be able to call me to speak to him if need be. Subsequently, he kept in touch, calling occasionally just to say hello and so on. The staff of course loved him cause he was a big tipper. Whenever his posh car with the government license plate rolled in, even those who should have closed for the day would hang on, hoping for a “blessing”.
One day, he called me in the afternoon.
“Good evening, sir”, I greeted. (Note he had a leadership position in church that came with a title).
“My doctor! How na?”
“I am eating **** in **** restaurant. Would you like to join me? Let me send my car for you.”
Now picture me, fantasizing about myself being chauffeured in that posh car with good air conditioning, insulated from the harsh Niger Delta sun, arriving said restaurant like a ‘queen’, being served all sorts of delicacies, where I proceed to eat myself to stupor. The smell of hospital antiseptic jars me back to my senses.
“No, thank you sir. I have had lunch.” (Aunty long-throat whispers in my head ‘Liar! You have not!” but I ignore her voice.)
“Are you sure? They have**** and ***. Have you tasted****?”
(By this time I am shaking my head like MFM prayer warriors muttering in tongues to bind the devil)
“No, thanks again. Have a good meal. I have to see a patient. (Another lie!). Bye now.”
He never asked again even though he called me for many other reasons through the years. A few years back, I was married and living in Lagos at this time, he called me out of the blues. I greeted him heartily.
“Doc, I don’t know how to tell you this. I need a favour.”
“Well…it’s just that…I wish you were in town I would have come to see you to ask for advice.”
I wonder why he is stuttering. What could be making him so nervous?
“Why not tell me what the problem is; I could be able to help even though I am far away.”
“Is it not all these small small girls? They don’t know how to do the right thing.”
“Small girl? Is your daughter ill?
“No, not my daughter. It’s one small friend I have…(Big shot actually sounds sheepish). She said she did not see her period.”
I am tempted to sound obtuse and ask him to go to her house, take permission from her mother and help her find it but “Not today Satan! Stay professional Dr. N!)
“How old is she?”
“Haba! That is too young. An older girl might have known to use protection. Why didn’t you use protection?”
I can feel him squirming over the phone…even MTN can feel it. His money, cars, connections cannot protect him from the wrath of an Igbo woman.
“I used condom. She said…I don’t even know what she said…”
“Are you sure she is pregnant? Have you done a test?”
“She showed me the pregnancy test she did. It was positive. Doc, how do we flush it out? Is there any friend you have who can do it for me?”
“You know I don’t do such things!” I scolded.
He winced. “I know but maybe your friends?”
“I don’t have friends who do abortions. You know it is illegal. Why not keep the baby?”
“Ha! You know my status. I am an *** in church and she is a small girl.”
I thought for a while. There were 2 possibilities.
- She was pretending to be pregnant to con him out of money
- She was actually pregnant and if I didn’t intervene he would take her to a quack and she would end up with a septic abortion or even worse die.
“Go to the hospital, call one of the doctors aside and tell him you need to ask him something privately. If he is willing to get involved, tell him your predicament and he will make sure it is done right. But first, he should do another test to confirm she is actually pregnant. If you insist on going ahead, ensure it is done under the strictest of sanitary conditions, and keep an eye on her afterwards to prevent any complications.”
“Okay, doc. Thank you.”
“Sir…you need to choose your girlfriends carefully. 19 years is too young!”
He mumbles something unintelligible.
“And you need to use protection. Carry a condom around. You will protect yourself from scandal and protect Madam from catching something. These girls are not loyal.” I was speaking fast because I knew he had had an earful and would soon end the call.
I never heard from him again.
Now the moral of the story… Esau was so hungry that he sold his birthright for Jacob’s pottage. If I had gone out with this man, even if I didn’t have sex with him, I would not have the temerity to call him out.
We are in this world as a light to expose the deeds of darkness. Make your standards evident once people meet you and they will leave you alone.
There are men who cannot call out their friends who are beating their wives just because they are indebted to them. Stop borrowing money you cannot repay to impress people who do not care about you.
There are ladies who paid people to write their exams, now they can’t raise their heads when people who know you were an arts student wonder how you ended up an Engineer.
Stop laughing at crude jokes in order to be politically correct. Even if you are not bold enough to speak against things, stand up and walk out. Psalm 1 talks about how blessed is the one who does not sit in the seat of scorners and mockers. You believe…who knows?
Making your stand known also protects you from undue pressure. I remember my husband telling me how a colleague at work was about to invite him to hang out with him in a club when another colleague interrupted and said “Leave him O! He doesn’t drink or hang out.” One day when the ribbing got too much, I told him to accept their invitation if he felt like it. He was such a bore at their outing cause while they were getting wasted he was worrying about the work he brought home and wishing he had his laptop. Suffice it to say they never invited him out again.
You have the power.
If you would like to chat send me an email @ email@example.com or find me on twitter @nenabekee
I have often spoken of my experience working in a very busy hospital in the Niger Delta, where I was the only female doctor. My MD was a very intellectual man. He would drill us on every patient we were managing, during the morning rounds. If he felt you were giving less than your best, he would give you a tongue-lashing in the presence of patients, nurses, and all.
Now, as medical students, we were trained to accept such criticism humbly, and even thankfully. The belief is that the privilege of holding human life in your hands, does not come lightly. You should be thick-skinned enough to handle verbal abuse. Even when we qualify as doctors, our superiors still have the right to come down hard on us. I’m not sure how many other professions encourage this.
One day, I was in the consulting room, when a young lady of 20-22 years was shown in. She was really pretty and shapely. Her complaints were, Mucoid and bloody dischage and vaginal bleeding. I later found out that she had post-coital and inter- mentrual bleeding. That means that she bled after intercourse, and in between her periods. I concluded that she had either cervicitis or early stage cervical cancer. Without alarming her, I asked her to go for some tests. Particularly, she was to do a pap’s smear. I also told her to abstain for a while and bring in her partners for tests.
The next day, I was summoned to the MD’s office. I was surprised to see her sitting there, looking worried.
“Come in, Dr. N”, he called when I opened the door. “Are you the one who sent this young lady for these tests?”
I took the sheet of paper he was extending to me.
“Yes sir” I replied.
“You sent her to the government-run laboratory? “, he smirked. “They are laughing at you!”
“How can you send such a young girl for this test? Your diagnosis is wrong! See how you made a fool of yourself! “, he ranted.
“I don’t understand…..” I stammered.
“How can you not get your facts right? Leave my office! I just called you to tell you how you messed up”
Crest-fallen, I left. I was fuming inside all day. Why was I not allowed to defend myself? For whose benefit was this show? I had not given her any medication. How harmless could a non-invasive test be? I went home mad in my spirit. There was no way I was going to let him get away with it. I prayed and decided to confront him.
Though I didn’t want to be fired, I couldn’t take it any longer. I had worked with him for a year and proven myself. Letting him talk to me that way, would open the door for far worse. I didn’t want to blow up in front of his staff.The next morning, I was very calm as I knocked on his door. I had downloaded on my laptop, current information about her symptoms. That way, he wouldn’t say I relied on old textbooks. He let me in and smiled.
“Sir, I have something I want you to read”, I began.
“What is that?”, he asked.
“Just something I downloaded”
“Tell me what it is”
“It’s all about Cervical cancer, HPV, Cervicitis and more”
“Is it because of yesterday? Forget about it, now”,he cajoled.
“Sir, you traumatized me. I didn’t sleep or eat yesterday because I was so embarrassed”, I joked.
“O! Pity about that”, he evaded.
“You have to make it up to me. The only way I will be pacified is if you buy my lunch today”
He laughed. “Lunch? Is that all?”
He rang for his personal assistant and ordered her to buy me whatever I wanted for lunch. I left with a smirk. That was the only apology I was going to get but, he would think twice before calling me out again.
“Wetin you do wey oga dey buy food for you?”, his assistant asked.
I mean, it was unheard of that he would release a penny. I winked at her and held my tongue. Now, it has always been my ambition to have a great reputation where I work. I work hard, complain as little as possible, give extra, and try to be humble and courteous. This is particularly because, females tend to have a bad rap in the work place, as being obnoxious and lazy.
However, there comes a time, when you have to speak up for your rights. You can’t be a footmat. If you have established that you have a good work ethic and get along with others, you don’t have to be ashamed to say, “No, I won’t take that!”. Some people are just waiting for you to lose your temper. As a Christian, I advise that you delay responding till you are calm and have mapped out a strategy that is win-win for all involved.
For instance, I could have engaged him before the patient, told him off, and quit. He would lose face, I would lose my job, and the patient would lose confidence in both of us. By going back later to correct him in private, I gave him the chance to call her back and do the right thing, without feeling ashamed. Yes, she may doubt my capability in future but, that is a small price to pay, I think.
So, dear muses, you may be well within your rights but, choose your fights wisely. Till date, I am one of the few who have worked for him, that he speaks well off. Many bosses have the power to destroy your credibility when someone calls them for your referral.
On another note, if you are sexually active, you want to protect yourself from STDs. Particularly prone, are those with multiple partners. You might want to try abstinence or being faithful to your spouse. It may save your life.
Cheers, Dr. N.
One day, I was at work when I heard a commotion outside. I was single at the time and living alone. The head janitor was my trusted informant. I relied on her to tell me about every patient before they came in. She positioned herself where she could see them as they parked or walked in, then she rushed to assist them register. This way, she brought me information that often prepared me for trouble.
Trouble? you ask. I was working in a volatile state in the Niger Delta. My guard was always up. No way was I going to get kidnapped or harmed. While they are a peace loving people, there is so much frustration brought on by the deprivation they suffered in the course of oil exploration. They seem aggressive, agitated, impatient, and quick to exchange blows. This is not to say that I didn’t have many wonderful friends there.
My informant (who I will call B), rushed in to tell me the man coming in was a chief and a political big wig. An easy way to make money there is to stir up political dissent for the incumbent governor. In order to keep you happy and end the opposition, he will put you on his pay roll. The number of people being paid millions monthly, will amaze you. What is their job? To keep their supporters from fermenting trouble for the governor or local government chairman. He may be given inflated contracts or paid to provide protection. For his loyalty, he is rewarded handsomely, and has direct access to the ears of the man in charge.
This patient was one of such. A strikingly handsome, fair and tall man in his early 50s. He had the arrogance that money breeds. His car was unmarked and very expensive. He stepped in, demanding attention in a loud voice. Before you knew it, he had the receptionist and other staff cowering in their boots. I am not easily intimidated. I happen to be very petite, so I feel no one will want to engage me in a fight. Who will applaud you when your opponent was not very likely to win, anyway? Hahaha!
So, Mr. High and Mighty, strides into my office with a sneer on his face. He had already planned to put the unfortunate doctor in his place. When he laid eyes on me, he was sober. He sat meekly in his chair, watching me like a hawk. I courteously checked his blood pressure. He kept watching me.
“Do you mean you are a doctor? At your age?”, he wondered.
I got that a lot, so I smiled. People usually subtracted 5 years from my age.
“Why didn’t I know someone like you works here?”
I ignored him. Hospitals should advertise newly employed female staff so the predators can troop in! Ha! When the visit was over, he lingered. It takes courage to ask out a prim and proper professional,I tell you. Some will try though.
“Do you do house calls? I have been looking for a doctor to attend to me at home. I think you have the demeanour and experience”, he offered, fixing his gaze on me.
“Thank you, sir”, I smiled. “My work here keeps me much too busy. I can’t afford to do house calls”
“O, come on. I will pay. Name your price”
At this point, suffice it to say, we were not negotiating the bills for house calls (if you get my drift). I shook my head, firmly.
“I would really love to, but, No”
“Have you seen the town? You seem cooped up here. I have a big house by the river. I’ll take you fishing. You need to learn about us”
See, very tempting. After all, it’s an intellectual exercise. I am too wrapped up in patient affairs. Don’t I need a social life? He eventually left but not after leaving my informant a tip that had her giggling like a school girl. Probably, she had told him she would buy me over, who knows?
I shared this story, because, we underestimate the power of flattery. And this is not to young girls, men can be victims also. Someone can lure you into fraud by praising your IT skills. People advise you to end your marriage because, you are too good for your partner. You need an extra marital affair to prove you are the man!
Those words that make your head swell, your breathing ragged, and your rational thoughts disappear, beware! At the end, you will wish you said NO. How powerful that word is. Just try it where you are. NO. When I am tempted to envy someone who seems to have it together, I mouth NO. When I am tempted to hold on to a grudge, I whisper, NO! When people flatter me for their own gain, I smile, and say “Thanks, but, No. You flatter me”. So should you.
This is the conclusion of my previous post.
I eagerly awaited the day the lady would arrive. My friend had ironed his shirt, waxed his shoes, and got a new hair cut. He filled my car with fuel, and set off to have dinner at their house. Said lady was not the stunner he hoped she would be. Oh well, he thought. At least, she was rich. Again, she didn’t seem as excited about him as her mother was.
1. Did she suspect her mother’s motives?
2. Did she have a boyfriend in USA?
3. Was she just making him work for it?
4. Or was she just genuinely uninterested?
Whatever was the case, he didn’t get a very warm welcome. They went out on their first date. Of course, I ensured my car had minimal gasoline (fuel). I wasn’t funding any joy ride. Much as I liked hearing the feedback, I was not that generous.
They went to a restaurant. It was not posh but, it was good enough for Dr. D. The babe kept complaining. The food was substandard, the service was poor, the decor was uninspiring. You know the drill. Dr. D bore it with a smile. She was going to be his. He would get a visa to America. Together they would start a new life. He would be able to send dollars to Dr. N (his buddy). (I hear you laughing).
During the drive home, they stopped at the gas station. You see, there was a shortage so,the queues were long and moved at snail speed. The wise thing to do would be to put off the airconditioner and wind down the windows.
“What!”, screamed Oyibo (not real name). “Do you want me to roast in this hot sun? Please keep the AC on”
He bristled but wisely kept quiet. Watching his fuel guage as they waited, his heart sank with dread. He actually came home almost in tears.
“Dr. N, Oyibo egbugo m!”, he mourned. (Oyibo has killed me) “See how I wasted fuel! In this time of scarcity!”
“That is a small price to pay”, I consoled, tongue in cheek. “I hope you charmed her?”
“Don’t mind her. She was pretending. I know she was feeling me”, he boasted.
I laughed. You see, he had a gorgeous Igbo accent and the typical mannerisms of my brothers. Many girls who grew up here may not mind (seeing as he is a doctor and all). I just felt Oyibo would want more. Not that those born abroad are better than those who were not. It’s just that, they may not compromise as readily.
I felt that she would not be in any hurry to be married. His stuttering, while cute, might come across as an inadequacy. So many things were just working against my friend but, he knew better.
After weeks of courting and a fleeting kiss (details gleefully shared), Dr. D gave up. See, you need to know when to count your losses. He came into my room one day and I could tell a story was in the offing.
“How far? Has Oyibo started processing your visa?”, I teased.
“Take your time, Dr. N”, he warned playfully. “I just withdrew because the whole thing was getting too expensive for me. I had that girl eating out of my hands”
I laughed. “Dr. D!”
“Eh! Imakwa na m bu nnukwu mmanwu? (Do you not know I am a great man?) You should be referring to me as Igwe (King)”
I laughed again. We had battled for long on me addressing him so “casually”. I was winning (he needed my car, remember?).
“So, what is going to happen? “! I asked.
“I’m not going there again. I told her mother that I can’t continue. She will not empty my account. Nne, I makwa na mmadu na-akari ife akari!(don’t you know I’ve outgrown such childishness).
I refrained from reminding him I had warned him. Dear male muses, learn from my story. Read ladies right. If she’s a romantic at heart, you will learn to love flowers and chocolates. No one is your ticket to prosperity. I am glad to say he is married to a nice colleague of his who complements him. No, she wasn’t one of those cooking for us. (Yeah, I ate part of the food the wannabes cooked). She was the one who waited to be chased.
Ladies, let him come to you. You may be cooking for his female neighbours! And every cougar out there, leave our young men alone.God will reward the hearer and the doer. Dr. N
It’s mothers’ day, so I will be generous with my posts today.
The story I’m about to narrate is a true one, which took place during my internship. I did my internship in a Federal Medical Centre. It is a tertiary health institution, which was located in the centre of a busy south eastern state capital in Nigeria. Due to the highly skilled personnel and moderate costs, the patient load was staggering. We the interns had our hands full, trying to understudy the consultants, while convincing the patients we were already good enough for them to entrust their lives to.
Dr. D was my neighbour (we lived on the hospital grounds). Our surnames were such that alphabetically, we often ended up doing postings together. This made us become very good friends. He was a tall, fair, handsome, young man. Confident to the point of seeming cocky, and a stammerer. This did not in any way deter him, as he was very friendly and social. His loud voice could be heard exchanging banters with friends (even if it took him long to get his point across).
Our surnames were close to each other in alphabetical order so we ended up doing postings together. We became very good friends. Of course, that he is a very good cook was a strong factor. I still remember his stews, yummy! Dr. D had the habit, as did many others, of soliciting private patients. He would put on his white coat, hang his stethoscope around his neck, don his spectacles, and parade the streets of the hospital. Patients, coming in for the first time, would spot him and rush to ask him for directions. They ended up in his room, receiving medication. He and the others made a modest sum from this practice, nicknamed “Odu”. Some would joke that money made from odu was for drinks and fun, not for sending home to mama.
One day, he was strolling about the streets asusual, when he was stopped by a middle aged lady in a nice car. She asked him if he was a doctor and he said yes.
“Please, could you get in? I want to ask you a favor”, she asked.
Thinking to himself that she could not harm him, he got in. She told him that she had a daughter who had lived in the United States all her life. For years, she had begged her to relocate to Nigeria. The girl agreed to visit but planned to stay only 2 weeks or so. Her mother came up with the plan that Dr. D should woo her daughter. A relationship with such a TDH, promising, young doctor, was sure to make her forget about returning to America. Dr. D agreed. He forgot to ask about the financial renumeration for his services.
When he told me the story, I laughed.
“Who is going to pay for the outings, Dr. D?”, I asked.”She will expect to be taken to the best restaurants, taken shopping, to see the sights, and so on. Is it the little money you made from odu that will suffice?”
“Dr. N, why do you sound so negative? I could not embarass myself by asking her mom for money. Let me just woo the girl. Before I spend much, she would have fallen for me. I went to their house, her mom is rich! I have made it O!”
“Dr. D! It’s not so easy! Do you write poetry? Can you compose a moving love letter?” I asked. “This will not be one of those girls who is excited by a plate of rice and chicken. She will be difficult to impress. You need to buy flowers, cards, chocolates, e.t.c. I don’t think you know what you are in for”
Dr. D dismissed me as a joker. “Didn’t you even see how her mom was besotted? If she could, she would have asked me out!”, he boasted.
I laughed and decided to let it rest. Meanwhile he borrowed my car to make an impression on her. You see, he was still saving up for his own. Dr. D was already in America, as far as he was concerned. He did not believe any woman could resist his charms. Not with the nurses, nursing students, patients, patients’ relatives, and more who were after him.
To be continued.
A number of people have wondered what my name is and why I don’t use it. I hope this answers the question. Apart from friends and family who are my biggest support base, I may keep my name secret for a while longer.
Years ago, a young man came in for a check up. He complained of burning sensation when urinating and other symptoms I can’t remember. I sent him for some tests and they confirmed that he had a sexually transmitted infection. I can’t remember exactly which one. He was wearing a wedding ring, so I slyly asked if he was married.
“Yes, I’m married”
“Does she have similar complaints as you do?”, I asked.
He said he had not told her of his symptoms, and believed her to be in perfect health.
“Is there a nice young lady on the side, who takes care of you?” I was looking away, as though theanswer did not matter.
“The reason I am asking, is not to embarrass you. I have to trace your sexual contacts, so they can get treated. Not only is there the danger of them spreading this disease, you will be re-infected if you go back to them” After a long hesitation, he volunteered that he had a girlfriend.
Ethicallyy, I could have just asked him to go and advice his contacts to come for treatment but,the Spirit of God constrains me. I struggle to let such opportunities slip by me. Though I am nervous sometimes, I grit my teeth and say my mind.
“Sir, I don’t mean to be rude, but do you think your wife is unfaithful? ”
He replied that he doubted she was.
“That nice girl you are keeping outside, isn’t she more likely the source of this infection? ” By now, he was squirming. I knew he wished he could shut me up. Alas, he could not. “You probably believed her too ‘neat’ and ‘classy’ to require you using protection. Now, it is likely your innocent wife is infected. Who knows for how long or with what consequences”
“Doc, is it incurable, or what? Why are you talking like this?”
“It is curable, but you should know better. What do you need a mistress for?”
“You’re a woman. You won’t understand. Bodi no be firewood. Sometimes you need variety”
“Variety of diseases???”
I did not let him go till I had made my point. No woman (or man for that matter), owes you loyalty till you marry them. Men who expect mistresses to be faithful, are deluded. They will tell you you are a stud, great in the sack, handsomer than Denzel Washington! When you leave, they will yawn and shake their head at your flabby stomach, and puny biceps. Handsome, my foot!
The bible says that a man who commits adultery is foolish, like a man who pours gasoline on himself! Let me stop there. Are you wondering if he came back with his wife? Maybe in my absence, for I never saw him again. That dear muse, is why I keep my name secret for now. In these days of social media, I know it is easy to dig up information. Hopefully, people will not start avoiding me. Lol. By the time I have to use my name, I hope I would have inspired a crop of soldiers. They will go on to tell the truth even when it hurts.
The market place is populated by Christians who are hiding their light. The children of this world are flaunting their debauchery. What would Jesus do? Dear reader, in school, at work, wherever you find yourself, be ready to give a godly opinion. Cheers
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
This story is a sort of sequel to “A good name”, and it’s about a good friend I will call Dr. H. He was the most senior medical officer in a hospital I worked in years ago. Though not much older than the rest of us, he had been there the longest and was the most experienced. He was in charge of the doctors, barring the MD of course. I remember the day I was interviewed and offered the job on the spot, he doubted me. He had to go and confirm from our boss, as everyone else was asked to go home and await confirmation.
Being in charge did not mean that he was obnoxious. On the contrary, he was pleasant, punctual to a fault, dilligent, and very disciplined. That also meant he expected the same of others. You could count on him to lend a helping hand with difficult cases. He was the only one who would refuse to leave after his shift till the patient was stable. Others would say “Dr. N, you’recapable”, and scurry off. Dr. H would roll up his sleeves and get to work. We actually believed he was excited about complicated cases, because, he would never complain. Also, he knew how to keep other staff in tow, as he would write a query at the slightest provocation.
On the day in question, he was on call with 2 nurses on duty. The senior nurse was a trained midwife, the type we all hustled to work with. Not only was she very experienced, you could go to sleep with her on duty. She would only call you when absolutely necessary, and would have everything you needed prepared. We all had a crush on her, sort of. Lol. The other nurse was an auxiliary nurse. In our defence, she was 1 of only 2 such nurses, and was always on duty with a more qualified nurse.
Dr. H got to work and was told a lady in labour was in her room.
“”Why is she not in the delivery room? Please bring her down so I can examine her”, he said. With that he did a round on all the other patients and went to the call room. After a while (I don’t know how long), he picked the phone to ask why he had not been called. No reasonable explanation was given. He repeated his instructions, and waited again. Much later, he got angry at the delay, and stormed out to ask what was happening. The sight that greeted him was members of staff running helter skelter. He traced the commotion to the ward of the lady in labour and this is what had happened.
The auxiliary nurse was left to monitor the lady, while the senior nurse rallied the security men to get a stretcher to carry her from the room upstairs, to the delivery room. During this time, she had the bearing down urge and told the nurse in the room. That one looked, saw the head of the baby, and took off. According to her, she went to call the midwife.By the time they both got back, the baby had slipped out, and was dead. The senior nurse tried in vain to resuscitate that baby, to no avail. Dr. H got there and took over. That child did not make it.
The father of the child was furious. He swore revenge. The auxiliary nurse packed her bags and left town that night. My MD reviewed the case the next day. The bereaved family had already sent a lawyer to collect their pound of flesh. The mood in the hospital was sombre. It was the first time we lost a child in that manner, and for it to be traceable to Dr. H of all people. The hospital was able to negotiate an out of court settlement running into millions. Neither Dr. H nor the nurse was sacked. Also, they did not pay the compensation. Dr. H had visited the family and apologised for everything that went wrong. The mother of the child really wished to get it all out of her mind, but her husband insisted on legalredress, not that I blame him.
Lessons I learned. No other doctor could have got away with such a costly error. If I build a record of always doing above and beyond, it will speak for me in the day of reckoning. Secondly, I must not ignore warning signals. People need close supervision. He ignored the warning bells that went off in his head when his order was not obeyed the 1st time. Perhaps, he wanted to assert his authority, forgetting that people are fickle. Thirdly, even if you are inexperienced, there must be something you know how to do. The auxiliary nurse could have asked the child’s father to help her call the midwife (why did she not use the phone?), rather than leave the room. My presence can save the day. If she had just caught that baby, the story would have been different.
So, I shared this story, for I find it unforgettable. Of course we are imperfect. No one is above mistakes. Our only prayer is that our mistakes do not cost lives. Dear muses, remember integrity protects. You can decide today to build a track record that will deliver you in the day of trouble. It consists of daily decisions that become a pattern.
I will do a post soon on emergency procedures. Many Nigerians are helpless when there is an emergency. While it is good to pray, a knowledge of CPR, and other simple procedures, can save a life where there is no doctor. Have a great week.
I will have so many posts about my rookie days, maybe I should title this part 1. Only a medical student or a close friend of one, will know how terrifying it is to stand there with a stethoscope around your neck, like you have the solution to every problem, all the while shaking in your boots. Lol. The patient doesn’t care that you are frightened;he is in pain, and expects you to make it go away.
My first job post NYSC was in a very busy hospital, as I have said before. At night, only 1 doctor was on call. Since the public health facility was close to moribund (note how vague I deliberately sound), we got all the business. We were swamped. Most nights, I stayed up till 4am, and I still had to present all the cases to my MD at 7.30am. Let me mention here he was very strict, harder on me than the guys, because he felt they tried to help me dodge responsibility. If only he knew, they did me no favours. Once they tried asking me out and found out 1 sharp guy had put a ring on it, they considered me ‘one of the boys’. Nobody did anything for me, in fact, I covered for them occasionally, when they had babes to attend to.
It was late, maybe 10 pm, the nurses called me to the A&E. On the couch sat a young lady,clutching her chest and wheezing. Around her were her father, mother, 2 brothers, and who knows who else! I started medication for Acute Asthmatic attack, after examining her quickly.
First of all, her relatives refused to answer any of my questions. They were rude, preferring to fan her, rub her back, tell her “sorry”, and talk on phone, than to give me information.
Her father actually told me, ” Can’t you figure out what is wrong with her? Why are you wasting time asking me questions? ”
It was obvious he despised me. I was 25 or 26, very skinny, not particularly tall, and I had no foreign accent to commend me. About 10 minutes later, the patient was still breathing fast, and clutching her chest. I will never forget her father’s words. First he started complaining that I had not given the right medication.
“This is not the 1st time we are coming here for this problem. There is an injection that the moment it is given, the symptoms stop. I just can’t remember the name”, he had the tone you use when speaking to a dull teenager.
I mentioned some drugs. He could not recognise any.
“Sir, I have given everything I should give. Let’s give her a while, she’ll feel better”, I reassured.
“Where is the doctor we met last time? Very brilliant chap! He just gave that injection, bam! She was good to go”, he started looking around for the person.
I was red with embarrassment. The nurses whose respect I was still trying to win, were looking at me like “Call for help if you are out of your depth”. I decided to take a walk to think of what I had not done.
Mentally, I went through my notes, checked all the steps I should have taken. The 2 alternatives were to double the doses of the drugs I had already given, risking complications, or call my colleague for help, risking their wondering why I could not handle such a simple case. All my life, I have avoided the “helpless female” tag. You know the one who faints at the feet of the guy she admires, so he will notice her. Eish! I decided that both options were out of it.
Returning to her side, I counted her respiratory rate. By this time, her father was raising his voice, threatening fire and brimestone. I figured that her respiratory rate (number of breaths per minute), would be a better assessment of her improvement than their ranting.
“Is she your youngest, sir?” I asked.
“She is my only daughter” ,he snapped.
I concluded that she was malingering. This is a situation where people exaggerate their symptoms, to get attention. She was probably spoilt, judging by the way they treated her like a baby, though she was 22 or more. At the end of the night, she was discharged. They settled their bills, still gripping about how long it took for her to feel better. They never suspected she was milking it.
The next day, I touched base with my colleagues, to find out the magic injection that stops wheezing immediately. One doctor actually remembered them, and said they were just difficult people. No one faulted my line of management, or the decision not to call for help. I heaved a sigh of relief.
Paul wrote to Timothy, “Let no man despise you because of your youth” This year, opportunities will come your way that people might feel you don’t deserve. When you have done your best, don’t let anyone push you around. Demand credit for your ideas, politely. Insist on promotion, nicely. Smile, but let it be known, that you are no push over. You will get in trouble trying to please everybody. Sometimes, you have to block out the noise and obey God. There is nothing wrong with asking for help, but you cannot come across as helpless, else you will never be entrusted with authority.
As my husband says, bosses expect results, not excuses. Imagine if I overdosed that girl, then told my MD, It’s because her father was shouting at me!” That would have been the end of my career.
Thanks for visiting, and to every rookie out there, just keep at it. Cheers.