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
Isaiah’s squad dressed in black descended on St. Lucas hospital at 12 midnight. They had informed Veronica of their plan so she had arranged a substitute security man who showed up like an understudy in order not to alarm Momoh. He opened the gate to let in the police van, assuming that they had come to continue their investigations as usual. The corporal who drove swerved sharply before the hapless man so as to block the view of anyone outside. Quick as lightening, they blindfolded him and bundled him inside the van. The corporal drove off with a screech. Momoh was a blustering bundle of nerves. He was crying and begging for mercy but the officers ignored him.
At their station, they stopped and carried him out. He was slung over the shoulder of the sergeant, a huge, burly fellow. By this time, Momoh had wet his pants.
“Officer, abeg, I get wife, I get five children. My mama still dey alive. No kill me, make una no kill me!”
They roundly ignored him. Isaiah unlocked the door of their interrogation room. It was a room at the back of their station which could be accessed without drawing the attention of those inside the station. Momoh was deposited on the floor and tied hand and leg. Finally, Isaiah spoke.
“Momoh, you know my voice?”
“Yes, sir,” he said trembling. “You be the oga police.”
“Good. You have been seeing my good side before now. Today, you will see the terrible part of me.”
“Sir, abeg, I no wan see!”
“As soon as I remove your blindfold, you will receive the beating that will cure you of lying.”
“Oga abeg, I no do anything, I no do anything! ”
“You did not open the gate for the woman who killed that boy?”
“Never! Master, I swear!”
“Kome, take over.”
He gave Momoh a blow so hard that even Isaiah winced. Momoh doubled up in pain, grovelling, begging.
“You connived to kill an innocent boy. How much did she pay you?” Isaiah asked.
With each question, Kome landed a blow.
“Is she your girlfriend?”
“Why did she want the boy dead?”
“Who else was involved?”
“Where is your girlfriend now?”
“Why did you betray your boss?”
“Why did you watch her being arrested for a crime you helped commit?”
“Is this your first time or you have dead bodies buried at home?”
Finally, Isaiah raised a hand for Kome to pause. They filed out of the room and left him with Amina. He hovelled on the floor, whimpering in pain. As his hands were cuffed behind him, he could not hold the parts of his body that hurt. She took a seat facing him though he was unaware she was there. After a long while, she spoke.
He looked up, alarmed, then cringed as though expecting another blow.
“Relax, they are not here,” she spoke in his dialect. “I can help you escape. That man will not stop till you are dead and this place is a secret room. Nobody knows where you are. You will be buried without your wife and children knowing. Is that what you want?”
“No, please, help me my sister!” He got on his knees to plead.
“I need Ekemini’s address. She moved out from where she was living, telling them she travelled. I know you have her phone number.”
“I don’t know her.”
“You want to die here?”
“No, my sister. Help me!”
“I will give you a phone to use to call her. Tell her you want to see her or you will tell the police what she did. Convince her to agree and we will be merciful to you.” She stood and left him to ruminate on what she had said.
“Hello,” said Veronica.
“Hello. Is that Dr. Veronica?”
“Yes it is.”
“My name is Javier. I am the country director of the organisation for the promotion of safe reproduction in Africa.”
“Great to meet you.”
“I watched your interview on TV and I was so moved that I had to find your number and call you. In fact, I was moved to tears. Your story reminded me of that of my mother, who was once falsely incarcerated in the US,” he said.
“I am very sorry to hear that.”
“O, she’s fine now. She spent one year in jail because we couldn’t afford a lawyer to get her out. My mother was a housekeeper who witnessed a crime. Her employer framed her for the crime and the state-appointed attorney did not care enough to do a good job. I had to bring her case to the attention of an organisation that fights for wrongfully convicted people before she was acquitted.”
“That is such a powerful story.”
“Do you know Reynolds?”
“Yeah, my brother volunteers at his organisation.”
“He called and asked me to watch you on TV.”
“Aww…That was nice of him.”
“I have a question for you. Do you regret stopping to help that child? Would you do the same again?”
“I honestly have no regret and I would stop for anyone who needs my help. There are a few things I would do differently though. I would have taken pictures both of the boy and of my car at the site. Also, I would have reported to the police immediately I got to the hospital. When his mother insisted that I was responsible for his injuries, I should have made her sign an agreement stating that I was not the one who knocked down her son. That would have been my condition for undertaking his treatment,” she said.
“I agree. Since she was desperate to save her son’s life, she would have signed anything.”
“She would have. Even if they later tried to frame me, I would have had better evidence against them that would absolve me of the crime.”
“You are an exceptional doctor.”
“Thank you Javier!”
“Well, I called because we need a hospital to cater to our staff numbering over one thousand in Nigeria alone. I can’t think of a better person to work with. We used to use another hospital but our staff have been complaining of their poor services. The two other hospitals we checked out did not meet our requirements. Can we set up a meeting for Tuesday?”
Veronica had to count to three to prevent herself from rising and letting out a whoop of delight. This was an answer to prayer that far exceeded her expectations. Firing Dr. Korede had led to Matron Ngwanu quitting. Together, they had set up a calumny of lies and blackmail, spreading rumors about the hospital that led to a decline in the attendance and income. It didn’t help that most patients trusted both of them and saw her as an outsider.
“Are you still there? I promise you a fair deal. Besides, I plan to advise five similar organizations whose directors are my friends to switch to your hospital. What do you say?”
Veronica had managed to control herself. “That sounds interesting, Javier. Thank you for considering us.”
She wanted to scream, “Come right away!” but she comported herself. She was a CEO not a fish monger after all. “I’ll see you then.”
He ended the call.
Ekemini was up at 5am everyday to prepare the moi moi she gave to two teenagers to hawk for her in Balogun market, for a fee. They would have to take a bus to CMS and then walk the rest of the way carrying the hot tray. It was not a long journey. She had to use them to generate an income since she had left white water unceremoniously. Mayen called a few times to ask where she was but she lied that she was in the village in south south Nigeria, observing her mother’s funeral rites. She feared that her sins would find her out one day. Every day, she worried that it would be her last as a free woman. She trembled whenever she heard a siren. The sight of a policeman was enough to send shivers down her spine. She was beginning to wonder if it would not be better for her to turn herself in. A product of an abusive home herself, it was the only life she knew.
She had fled from her mother and step father because he took advantage of her with her mother turning a blind eye from her teenage. A truck driver gave her a lift on the condition that she would pay in kind. She did, in the back of his truck. In Lagos, she kept trading her body to survive until she was drafted by a kidnapping ring. They contracted her to lure children for their nefarious activities. Also, it was her task to take care of them till they were trafficked either as slaves or to ritualists. They moved often. As soon as the law got on their trail, they would change location. In white water, she began to run a “creche” in order to camouflage her activities. It was unfortunate that Edet caught her with the little girl. She could not explain what drew her to children. Maybe it was because they could not take advantage of her like all the men in her life had. She could not afford to let him say a word to anyone so she had chased him into ths street, yelling for him to stop.
When she heard the crash, she hung back. She knew the neighbours would not know what to do to save him. They would be busy abusing the perpetrator or crying or wringing their hands to actually make a move to assist him. By the time she realized that Dr. Veronica had stepped in, she decided to stage an appearance. Framing her for the crime and all her fake tears were part of the plan. The difficult part was making sure she was by his side when he woke up. She had two children who were kidnapped, in her care. Her neighbours believed they were her relatives. She had to take them to a remote location and let them go. Then she lied to her employers that they fell sick and she released them to avoid drawing suspicion. That enabled her to focus her energies on ‘caring’ for Edet.
She made herself invaluable so that Mayen thanked her God for giving her such a good friend. When he was fully conscious, she chose a time that they were alone to give him a warning.
“Edet, do you want to die?”
“You must not tell anybody what you saw in my house, do you hear?” she pinched his ear as she spoke.
He did not show any sign that he was in pain even though she was pinching quite hard.
“If you tell anyone, I will kill you and kill your mother, do you hear?” she repeated, twisting his ear for good measure.
He looked up at her from his bed where his leg was suspended.
“Aunty, what you did is not right. She is a baby,” he said softly.
“Sharrrap! I see you are stubborn. You will see what I will do to you.” She knocked his head. He did not flinch. She would have said more but a nurse was at the door so she sat down, eyeing him furiously so he would not utter a word.
When she got home that evening, her heart was full of fear. For an eight year old to look her boldly in the eye was a sign that he was unafraid. He obviously believed she was bluffing. Besides, he thought that the hospital offered him protection. Time was running out. At any moment, the boy could open up to anybody. She had to think fast.
At the nurse had left after dressing his wound.
“Do you like little Beauty?” she had asked him.
“Yes,” he replied. “She is my friend. I am going to report you to Dr. Veronica. What you did is wrong.” He crossed his arms defiantly.
“I am going home now. Should I hear that anybody knows of what you saw, I will kill her. I will cut her with a knife and throw her body in the atlantic ocean,” her voice was menacing, her face threatening.
“But…but, she is your sister’s daughter?” His eyes were wide with alarm.
“My sister? Have you ever met my sister? I have no sister. Beauty is not related to me in any way.”
Edet could not utter another word. He realized that he was dealing with an evil person, a woman without a conscience, one who would not hesitate to destroy anyone she perceived to be in her way.
“Please don’t touch her,” he pleaded. “I promise to keep your secret. No one will ever hear of what I saw.”
“Good boy! I knew you would see things my way,” she smirked, rubbing her hands.
“I have to leave. Make sure you take your drugs do you hear?”
He nodded, sullen. She laughed and blew him a kiss as she rose to gather her belongings. For days, after she got home, she agonized over not knowing whether or not the police would come after her. She went about her activities like a robot.
The day before the day Edet died, she was in a bus heading to the Iddo market when a strange-looking man, dressed in white asked, to read her palm. Before she could object, he grasped her hand and turned it so her palm faced upwards. She watched him, sceptical, as he traced the lines of her palm.
“You are not married. Children are many in your hands. What are you doing with all these children? One of them, a boy will kill you,” he said.
She wrested her hand out of his grasp.
“God punish you. You are the one who will die! Rubbish!” she spat as she shouted for the bus to stop at the next stop.
Immediately, she boarded a bus to St. Lucas. The security man had become her friend because she flirted with him whenver she visited. Once, she had let him take her into his room and kiss her but she did not let him go further. She had always felt that she would need him one day. Today was the day. Due to traffic, she arrived late. She hung around the street, waiting till dark to approach Momoh. He was more than happy to see her and to play host for the night. In the early hours of the morning, while he slept, she crept into Edet’s room. She only wanted to reason with him. At the most, she would threaten him. She feared the divination of the prophet she met in the bus; she did not want to die.
He was not listening to her. He tried to cry out. She placed the pillow across his face just to muffle his screams. Why she held it there for longer than she should have, she would never know. He was not breathing when she took it off. She tried to rouse him but he did not respond. Finally, she had to make her escape. Momoh was awake when she returned to his room. He asked her where she had gone but she insisted she went outside to ease herself. It was when an alarm was raised later in the day, when she was long gone, that he realized just how deeply involved he was in the whole scandal.
Ekemini’s phone rang. She saw it was Momoh’s number and ignored it. By the time it rang three times, she answered.
“Hello, where you dey?” he asked.
“What kind of question is that? Have I not warned you about calling me? Listen, you need to stay away from me.” She was short with him.
“The police are on my neck. Let us meet today, this morning. I want money to get out of this town.”
“I thought they arrested your madam for the crime?” She put down the leaf she had been spooning moi moi into.
“Yes, that was before. Last night, they said they will come today to arrest me!”
“Momoh they don’t know anything. They are grasping at straws.”
“Give me your address. I need money.”
“How much are we talking about here?” she asked.
“Fifteen thousand naira. I want to go back to my village and farm till things calm down.”
“Okay. Come early or you will not see me,” she warned.
She proceeded to describe where she was living and how he could get there. An hour later, she got a call from him that he was outside. She was to stand outside her doorway and wave. It was a slum much like white sands. The difference was that she had not started taking in the neighbourhood children. It takes time to build trust and she knew that any false move would give her away.
“Where are you?” she said into the phone. She had left it on as she went outside to wave to him. “I can’t see you.”
Someone she could not identify sneaked up on her and held her hands in a vice like grip. The phone clattered to the ground, unheeded.
“Ekemini, you are under arrest for the murder of Master Edet,” she heard.
Her heart sank. The day she had dreaded; the day the prophet had divined, had come. She slumped in the arms of the man who held her. In a daze, she felt her wrists being cuffed as she was dragged to a police van. She was thrown into the back. Looking up, she saw Momoh. He was also in cuffs, his face swollen and misshapen, with crusts of blood around his upper lip. He looked at her helplessly, pleading for forgiveness with his eyes. If she could speak she would have told him she was not angry. Her chickens had come home to roost: He was not at fault.
“Dr. Veronica,” she heard one of the officers say into his phone. “It’s over. We got her.”
I hope you loved my little story. Please give me a shout out if you read it. I also welcome corrections and observations. I wrote this story to give us a peak into the struggles doctors go through in Nigeria, hoping to win over those who see only our deficiencies. May you only meet godly doctors on your journey, in Jesus name!
Remember, God causes all things to work together for those who are called according to his good purpose for him. Have you answered the call? If you will like to, say after me, “Jesus, come into my heart today. I confess all my sin and I turn away from them. Write my name in the book of life. Fill me with your holy spirit and lead me to live for you all the days of my life. In Jesus name. Amen!”
Do click on the title to talk to me or send me a confidential email on firstname.lastname@example.org. Love ya.
Cheers, Dr. N.
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.
Aunty Nwando and Fred were planning his proposal to Ekene. They were driving to a location she had suggested to check it out.
“Nna, slow down. You drive way too fast”, she protested, holding on for dear life to the dashboard. “I placed a tentative order for aso ebi for your wedding. Don’t send me to an early grave”, she snapped.
“Aunty Nwando, how possible is that? I have been driving for donkey years and never had an accident”, he boasted.
“Do you know what you’re saying? Slow down!”
He reduced his speed with a smirk. “Scaredy cat”
“Let it be! “, she let out the breath she had been holding.
“So, how’s business? “, he asked.
“We’re making money this year”, she sang.
He laughed. “Very modest of you!”
“For real. Since I joined the wedding planning committee in church as Ekene suggested, I get more aso ebi orders than I used to”, She smiled.
“Uh huh. My customer base has widened greatly. And the guests at the weddings get my contact. I give discounts to the brides from my church that make them refuse to patronize even family members in the same line of business”
Fred burst into laughter.
“That your girl is a keeper! We are blessed to have her as a daughter” Aunty Nwando adjusted in her seat as she spoke.
“Speaking of my girl, did you order the ring for me?”
“Yes. It arrives tomorrow”
“Good. Thanks. You’re the best”, he grinned.
“I am only doing what your mother would have done” She replied pensively.
“I miss her” Fred bit his lip
“I miss her too” They exchanged glances and looked away as their eyes pooled with tears.
Fred’s late mom had been Nwando’s favourite sister and best friend. She was impossible to replace and her memory still evoked tears, years later.
Ijeoma begged to be excused from work at lunch time so she could close early. The day had dragged, what with Benita announcing she was getting married. She wondered the man unfortunate enough to have been snared by such a bitter girl. Chike kept looking for excuses to come to her office but, did not speak to her. She ignored him. At 12 noon, she headed to the hospital to see her husband. That was after stopping to buy him lunch from an eatery. Her phone had been off all day as it was not charged. She hoped he had his charger so she could borrow it.
At the hospital, she parked and got out. Lifting her bag and the take out, she locked up and peered at her reflection in the car window. She looked lovely in a floral dress with a blue jacket. Hopefully, thus illness might be a turning point in their relationship. They could use it as an opportunity to work on their differences and renew the passion in their marriage. Ijeoma was smiling at her thoughts as she approached the reception and greeted the nurse. Who would have thought 3 months ago, that she would be considering reconciliation? Ndidi’s prayers must be working, she mused.
The nurse looked up as she greeted her. “Good day, how may I help you? ”
“I’m here to see my husband” She replied.
“What’s his name?”
“Magnus…..”, She began to flip through her records.
“No need. I know his room”
“Alright, then” She snapped the book closed and resumed the work she was doing rolling cotton into swabs.
Ijeoma made for the general ward. His bed was empty. She was puzzled. The sheets were gone and his locker was empty of even the toiletries it had contained. She headed back to the reception. Perhaps he had upgraded to a private room. She wondered how he hoped to pay for it.
“Sorry to bother. I didn’t see him” she told the nurse.
“When I wanted to check, you rushed off” the nurse scolded lightly.
“I left him there at 6am this morning”
The nurse got up and opened her records again.
Another nurse joined her as she was flipping through. “Angela, go and dress the bed in Room 5”, she instructed.
“I’m busy” she replied.
“Excuse me. Aren’t you the nurse I met this morning? ” Ijeoma asked the 2nd nurse.
“Yes. I am working an extra shift” she replied.
“Okay. I was wondering where my husband was moved to. The private ward?”
“Your husband? He was discharged 2 hours ago”
“Really? Halleluyah! So he’s fine now?” Ijeoma clapped in excitement.
“Didn’t he tell you? He was transferred to Dr. Jubril’s hospital”
“Dr. Jubril? I don’t know him”
“Hmm. Well, he left immediately”
Ijeoma was confused. How would he pay for a private hospital? Did he have money he was hiding? Is it that he was in such a critical condition that he had to see a specialist?
“You want to talk to Dr. Kola. He’ll explain better” she advised. Turning to her colleague, she wagged a finger “Angela, the bed is waiting”.
Ijeoma left them and headed for the doctor’s office. He was attending to a patient but she was allowed in before the next in line.
“Madam”, he greeted.
“Doc, why was my husband transferred? ”
“He requested it”
“Okay”, she heaved a sigh of relief. “I thought there was a complication”
“Not at all. I’ll be there to see him in the evening”
“Thank you so much. Could I have the address? My phone was off so he couldn’t tell me”
“You could call Miss Momah then. Though it’s easy to find. The hospital is in Surulere”
“Miss Momah?”Ijeoma was puzzled
“The lady who arranged his transfer? Pretty, fair, slim?” he described
“Okay. I know her”, she lied quickly.
“Could you give me her number?”
” I …..” “I can’t. My phone is off. Let me head there. Thanks”, she rushed out.
Regina was making a call in the hospital reception at AS hospital. Magnus had been admitted in a cozy private room and assigned a friendly middle aged nurse. She planned to spend just 2 hours with him but time flies when you are chatting with a man who understands you so perfectly. As she had done several times, she wondered how she had become so entangled with him. He just got her, in a way no one ever had. Most times, he read her thoughts just by her facial expressions. It was inconceivable that something that felt so right could be so wrong.
He had dozed off, so she decided to dash back to the office. She was calling her secretary to confirm some appointments when Ijeoma walked in.
“Let me get back to you”, Regina ended the call and turned to greet Ijeoma. “Good afternoon, Madam. You’re welcome”
“Who is your Madam, Idiot?”, Ijeoma shouted as she dropped her bag on the nearest chair.
“Pardon?”, Regina asked, puzzled.
“I asked, Who is your Madam?”, She had grabbed Regina’s blouse around her neck and squeezed it into a bunch. “You are sleeping with my husband so I have become your Madam? Are we not age mates?”
The 2 nurses at the reception had approached to intervene but one glance from her blazing eyes made them step back. Regina was red from embarrassment.
“To think that my sister in Christ is the snake that has been stealing eggs from my poultry! Onye ara! Pastor Shedrack must hear this! Onwe gi nno any other man you could have set your sights on but my husband? Ewu Gambia!” As she ranted, she tightened her hold on Regina’s shirt, her voice going an octave higher with each sentence.
“Madam, this is a hospital”, the Matron had appeared and was trying to wrest her hand from Regina’s blouse.
“Hospital? You allowed her to turn this place to a hotel so don’t just talk to me!” Ijeoma pushed the woman aside.
Dragging Regina with her, she began to make her way to the wards. “Where is the shameless man? Which room is he in?” she ranted.
By this time, the security had arrived and they stood in her way. “Let go of her, Madam” the first one pleaded.
Regina was unable to utter a word. She couldn’t even attempt to put up a fight as she saw that was the excuse Ijeoma needed to hit her. The 2 men were able to convince Ijeoma to let her go. However, she insisted on Regina following her to Magnus’ room. He woke up to a sea of faces. Regina looking mortified, his wife with a heaving chest, 3 nurses, 2 security men, 1 attendant, 4 patient visitors, and who knows who else.
Before he could say a word, Ijeoma went to his bedside and sat down calmly like nothing had happened.
“Sister Regina, please take a seat” She motioned to a seat in a chillingly soft voice. “The rest of you should excuse us. This is a private affair”
They stood still for 30 seconds in shock before filing out slowly. The Matron remained.
“Mr. Ozo, I want you to assure me that you will control the situation. We don’t want you disturbing the patients” She appealed.
He nodded, too shocked to speak. As the Matron left, Ijeoma stood up to shut the door behind her.
TO BE CONTINUED.
(Feel free to leave a comment. Click on the title)
*aso ebi : uniform fabric used to make outfits by family and friends during weddings
*onye ara : mentally deranged person
*onwe gi nno any other man: There just wasn’t any other man……
*ewu gambia : curse
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
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
There will be so many stories under this topic, sometimes I don’t even know where to start. Talking is not all we can do to change people but it’s the first thing to do. I can’t tell you how many people have died ‘in faith’. Before I go further, I must tell you I am a woman of faith. I have walked with the lord for more than 20 years now and so I know what it feels like to be sick and prefer divine healing to nasty injections. I had my two children without any pain (I’ll tell you about that some other day). It got to the point while I was in ‘labour’, some staff of the hospital were trouping into my room to see for themselves how I was watching TV at that stage of labour. This story and many more, is to open the eyes of those who mistake faith for foolishness and presumption.
First of all, if it is faith, it will work. It will work before you die. Being ill, getting worse daily refusing to seek treatment is foolishness. What scripture are you standing on? Have you prayed for headache before and got healed that you want to be healed of pneumonia. As I always say, medicine is not perfect but, God is not against medicine. He works with doctors just ask Luke the apostle.
A lady came in with her daughter of not more than 5 years. They were out patients which means they didn’t think anything was seriously wrong. As I turned to get the history from her mother, I observed the child was very weak, pale, and shivering despite how hot it was.
“This child is very ill”, I said. I got up and felt her skin. She was burning with a high fever. “Let’s admit her and start treatment. We can talk while I treat her”
“I didn’t come for admission”,her mother informed me.
I felt she was worried about the cost so, I triedto convince her that the child was too ill to scrimp and so she should let us treat and worry about the bills later. She still refused, shaking her head stubbornly.
“Okay, what is wrong with her?” I asked.
She told me her daughter had had a fever for 5 days. Also, she had diarrhoea and vomitting.
“Where have you been? Did you buy drugs for her?”
“I’ve been in church. The prophet has been praying for her”
“For 5 days?” I screamed.
“Yes”,she replied. “Today, he asked us to collect some drugs from the hospital to stop the vomitting so he can continue the prayers”
I felt like slapping her face. Just being honest dear reader, some things you hear in the hospital can make you act like a tout.
“Call him on phone and tell him I said I’m not giving you oral medication. This girl is too weak toswallow. She needs infusions (drips) to even withstand antibiotic injections”
The lady would not budge. I got some nurses especially those who spoke her language to beg her. I was almost in tears, it was that bad. The more we argued, the more lethargic the girl became. When I saw the girl was getting worse, I wrote out some drugs for her and pleaded with her to inform the ‘Man of God’, that her child’s life was in his hands if he would not allow her to he admitted. I even offered to pay the admission deposit. Madam Faith or rather Madam ignorance, left with her daughter who was by then, breathing in a shallow manner.
All the staff of the hospital knew how unhappy I was. I hid in the call room and shed tears for that innocent life that I knew I could have saved. I may not know the cure for HIV, but diarrhoea? ?? How can my patient die of a curable illness? It’s still so painful even as I write this, though it happened 4 years ago.
Please give me some time to get myself together. I’ll complete the post another time.