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