The intern and the nurse gingerly hoisted the man from the wheel chair unto the bed. Another nurse wheeled in a small trolley with instruments for wound dressing. Wale and Joke (a classmate) donned gloves in readiness to assist the intern and the nurses. The first nurse was trying to control the bleeding as fast as she could. She placed one sterile dressing over a gash on the man’s forehead and applied little pressure; a dark red stain quickly appeared and grew rapidly till it consumed the white of the dressing in a matter of seconds. The nurse removed the bloody pad, threw it in the trash and placed another one over the wound, the other nurse took a pair of scissors to his trousers, only then did I see that the flesh of his right shin was savagely torn and his bone was sticking out at an awkward angle. Two students had to restrain the man as the nurses attended to his injuries.
“Who came with this man?’’, the intern called out.
Two men who had been craning their necks at the doorway of the ward stepped in. ‘’Doctor, na we’’, one of the men said in vernacular pointing to himself and his counterpart who was muttering something in Yoruba. They both regarded the intern warily. I immediately assumed it was because she was young and female. One of the men was dressed in blue overalls smudged with grease; the muttering man was wearing Ankara and was wringing his cap in his hands.
‘’How you take sabi this man?’’ the intern asked as she was scribbling on a prescription pad.
The man who spoke previously spoke again, ‘‘Na my friend oh, e dey carry im okada commot for my workshop when I hear gbam!, na so we con commot outside see wetin happen…”
“What about you Oga?’’, the intern asked the other man, cutting of the first man mid-sentence.
“Aburo mi ni,’’ he said quietly
“Oga, you go go reception, go open folder, then you go buy these things,’’ She handed the friend a piece of paper.
The intern turned to the brother to ask him some questions, he was still muttering in Yoruba. I leaned in to hear what he saying, he seemed to be repeating a particular word it sounded like..pako?, I moved a little closer so that I could make it out..Akpako? Huh?? Agbado? Nah..Agbako? Agbako.. I didn’t know what it meant, I made a mental note to ask someone for the meaning later.
The patient’s friend returned with some of the items that the intern asked him to buy. With practiced moves, the intern set up an IV line, Wale assisted her as she inserted a urinary catheter. We all watched as she examined the patient and performed some other procedures.
“Please go to the call room and call Dr Adebayo, tell him we have a casuality” she said to no one in particular but the student closest to the door went and returned quickly with Dr Adebayo in tow.
The patient now was lying still and breathing shallowly. I tried to imagine the amount of pain he was in and I shuddered, thank goodness for painkillers I thought.
“Dr Nsikak, What’s his GCS? “ Dr Adebayo asked.
“10 Sir”, the intern answered.
“We have been able to fairly stabilize him, but my hands are really tied sir, i didnt take samples for grouping and crossmatching because the labs are closed, it looks like he’s lost a substantial amount of blood but the blood bank is closed, no xrays yet…no cast for his leg..technicians are all on strike” the intern continued.
“I’m aware, that’s why we have discharged almost all the patients. Let’s just make sure he’s stable enough to be transferred to another hospital, for now , we just observe”
All the students had left the patient’s bedside and were listening to the exchange between Dr Adebayo and the intern, Dr Nsikak.
“Are they just going to leave him like that, no investigations? Nothing?” someone murmured
“You just heard now, non-medical staff are on strike” another student replied
“Side labs nko?”
“You know in grey’s anatomy or House, dude woulda been hooked up to various monitors and all”
“That’s on TV, this is naija and this is our reality”
“At least the doctors seem to be managing him well under the circumstances.”
“Yeah…Stifling circumstances though”
We looked at the man again he seemed to be peacefully asleep, his head turned towards the wall.
“Crap!” someone shouted
Although it looked like the man was asleep, he was making odd sudden jerky movements, abnormally extending his arms and legs at intervals. Doctor Adebayo turned to us “students this is called decerebrate posturing, it indicates severe brain damage”
The intern looked at the Doctor Adebayo with a questioning look on her face
I screamed “Don’t just stand there! do something!” in my mind of course.
The man’s chest heaved and suddenly he let out a jet of thick crimson fluid from his mouth. It splashed on the wall leaving small reddish-brown clumps. I turned my head away it smelled like rotten eggs.
His brother ran into the ward, crying “Broda mi, broda mi”. Someone tried to hold him back.
The patient began to gasp; Dr Adebayo quickly examined the man’s face, and put a stethoscope to his chest.
“He is aspirating, get me the suction”
The nurse got a manual suction; she directed the rubber tubing into the patient’s mouth and ordered me to pump. I worked the foot pedal like my life depended on it. The other students were assisting the intern as another patient was just wheeled into the ward.
The man heaved again, and another stream of blood flowed from the man’s mouth and spattered on the floor. Almost everyone moved back just in time.
By this time more of the patient’s relatives or friends had gathered outside the ward.
Dr Adebayo was shaking his head.
What did that mean? Had he already given up?
I pumped faster.
The man stopped gasping and went totally still.
The intern ran out and returned with an ambu-bag in an attempt to begin resuscitating the man
“Don’t bother, “Dr Adebayo said
“But sir?” the intern asked
“He’s already gone, you can’t save everyone”
I snorted, would he say the same thing if were his sibling or spouse or child lying there, would he?
“But sir, lets at least try to administer CPR, “Dr Nsikak pleaded
“On that? “ Dr Adebayo asked pointing to the patient’s mouth
Blood was slowly beginning to crust on the man’s lips and chins.
“Dr Nsikak, If by the slimmest of chances we are able to resuscitate, his brain injury is probably is too severe, better this than live life as a vegetable”
I tried but reason it out but a part of me didn’t want to accept his logic.
“I’ll go and see his people.” Dr Adebayo said stepping outside the ward into the corridor
I yanked off my gloves, threw them in the trash and headed for the wash room. Wale had already stomped out of ward and was heading towards the car park.
As I walked to catch up with him, I heard a soul wrenching scream rent the air. I closed my eyes for about a second and then walked faster. I didn’t want to look back.
I finally caught up with Wale.
“It’s paining me” He said. “Dr Adebayo could have tried at least tried harder to save that man’s life”
“Yeah, it not entirely his fault though” I answered, “and it still doesn’t me make me feel better”
“Whose fault is it then? That guy just died for nothing, just for nothing! His death was totally preventable. I can only imagine what his loved ones would be going through. Men, this is just too messed up abeg, I’m just tired of this country!”
I kept mute, even though my mind was churning. If I were to play the blame game, who would I pin the blame on. Who was responsible for this man’s death and many other preventable deaths for that matter? The Government, The policy makers, the various Ogas at the top, the health care system, health practitioners? ignorance, carelessness?
I sighed audibly, and then it hit me, here I was complaining about the health care system. What was I actively doing doing to make things better? Did I even genuinely believe that could the state of things in Nigeria could be better?
I heard my stomach groan. I hadn’t eaten since my hasty breakfast. I looked at my wristwatch. It was almost 7:00pm. With a heavy heart, I got into a cab and headed home.
I sincerely apologize for posting this late. This story is based on true events, although, it isn’t a blow–by–blow account of what took place that fateful day and various names have been changed. Permit me to assume that you may have witnessed an/many event(s), maybe of recent, that made has you angry at the government and the state of things in this country. I was privileged to attend Catalyst alpha ’13, and a member of the audience suggested that the Nigerian ideology is the “E GO BETTER” mentality.The average Nigerian rants and rants and goes back to their everyday hustling without believing they can truly change anything. Paraphrasing MJ, change starts with the man in the mirror. Despite what may be the current situation of things in this nation, it still has one thing, YOU. You and I are the Hope of Nigeria. P.s – Kindly pardon all typos.
Corrections can be given in the comment section. Thank you.