HOW NIGERIA ALMOST KILLED A 5-HOUR OLD BABY

How Nigeria Almost Killed a 5-Hour Old Baby

Dear Nigeria,

I’m writing this with great sadness and pain in my heart. I’m frustrated and don’t know what else to do so I’m just going to write. You almost killed a five hour (yes, hour) old baby. Only the worst of murderers can do that.

On Saturday, I had my first Paediatrics call as a medical student. I was at the Children’s Emergency Ward on a weekend call which was to last from 8am Saturday to 8am Sunday. It was somewhere around the vicinity of 11pm. I had barely eaten anything all day and I was struggling to stand on my feet but as a doctor-in-training, I’m getting used to putting my own needs secondary most times just so the emergency cases can be attended to. Hypoglycemic and sitting outside the Emergency Ward to clear my head , a woman with a baby, a man (presumably her husband) and someone else rushed towards me. I led them inside to meet my superior so she could give them the urgent attention needed.

A hurried history taking and clerking showed that the baby was just 5 hours old at the time and had a complex cyanotic congenital heart disease. In simple terms, for this baby to remain alive she needed 100% oxygen. She was connected to an almost empty oxygen tank from the private hospital she had been delivered in.The only logical thing to do next was to admit the baby into the Special Care Baby Unit as there was little oxygen in the emergency/children’s wards. The little oxygen was even being shared amongst patients who needed them temporarily for a few minutes. This baby needed to remain connected to an oxygen cylinder or any other means of delivering oxygen otherwise in a matter of minutes, she would be dead.

A flurry of activities ensued and the baby was rushed to the special care unit. On getting there, I alerted the senior doctor on call there for the night. In less than a minute she arrived and sadly informed the parents that there was no oxygen. The parents were advised to look for any children’s hospital nearby. I noticed the mother stare forlornly at her daughter’s head cradled in her arms. The parents looked lost for words as they walked down the stairs that led to the special care baby unit (SCBU).

I remained in SCBU with my seniors who were checking up on the other babies admitted while wishing there was something I could do. I left SCBU to the Emergency unit which was my call station for the night. I saw the family of the newborn getting into the cab that had conveyed them to the hospital. It was 11pm and I knew it would be almost impossible for them to randomly find any children’s hospital before the oxygen cylinder ran out of oxygen. I did a quick Google search which led me to the closest Children’s hospital that was about 20minutes away. I dialed the number on the contact page of the hospital and spoke to the person who picked to confirm if there was oxygen in their facility. Thankfully, they had some. I gave directions as well as the contact details to the father of the child and hoped for the best as they drove away.

I strolled into the Emergency Unit to continue my call to avoid being noted as being absent from my duty post. When I got back into the emergency room, I looked around and wished there were better facilities to take care of patients. I wished we didn’t have to ask patients at times to buy things as basic as cannulas, syringes and gloves which should be covered by the health care fund the government is supposed to provided. I wished there would never be an occurrence where a patient would have to hear these five words, “Sorry, there is no oxygen.”

The next emergency case rushed in by almost 11:30pm and I got called by a senior registrar on to assist in the management of the case. That brought my wishful thinking to an abrupt halt and this is where I would have to stop my tirade. I could only hope that you would read all I’ve written here and not kill any more of your citizens.

Thanks in anticipation of a favourable reply, Nigeria.

Yours faithfully,
Treasure A.
Signed: A disgruntled 5th year medical student.

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My Battle Scars

Okay, I’ll admit it….battle scar sounds a little too serious. I’ve not particularly fought any battle depending on how you want to look at it. As for scars, I’m yet to find out.

This year, I told myself I had to visit a state in Nigeria that I haven’t already visited. It also had to be a gruelling road trip so maybe I could have something to actually remember. Forty-five minutes of flying in the air leaves you bereft of certain experiences you can only acquire when you travel long distance on a Nigerian road. I can fully say mission accomplished.

Blessed by the ASUU strike (yes, blessed…. I’m all about silver linings in the cloud now), I had excess free time on my hands and decided to visit the famous beach in Eket, Nigeria. For those who don’t know, Eket is in Akwa-Ibom. The journey was arduous. It was bad enough that the tour bus I was in was kept on the road for close to two hours by the SARS guys. Want to hazard a guess? I’m pretty sure you’re wrong except you guessed that it was because there was a guy with a tattoo on his arm. Who knew tattoos were illegal? I was going to be a knowledgeable citizen and talk about rights and whatnot, but having knowledge without common sense is like white rice without stew – there’s really no point.

Did I mention that everyone in the bus had to come down and we were searched to check if we had tattoos. Yeah, that actually happened. Again, I didn’t say anything. I just complied. Intro to Nigeria 101 tells you that whenever someone who belongs to the SARS or Nigerian army tells you to do something, don’t question. In case you missed it the first time, seriously don’t question. Like Nike, Just do it! If you don’t, whatever happens….you are truly on your own.

After much pleading and money collection (yes, they still collected bribe money), the tour bus continued on the journey to Eket. I have to say the long ride and annoying traffic at Onne/Eleme were forgotten when my toes touched the sands of Eket beach and the waves rippled against my feet. It was truly beautiful especially at night and to see such beauty in Nigeria in the South where I am from resonated deeply within me. Nothing beats the ocean breeze.

I tend to get carried away so bear with me. What was I even saying about scars again? Yes. It was all fun and good vibes until I decided to run on the beach. It felt like a good workout idea until I fell face flat on the sand. God bless the people around for not laughing. I wasn’t even angry at the moment until minutes later when I felt a sharp pain at my knee. I looked down hoping to not see what I knew I would see. Two perfectly formed circles, one on each knee where my skin had unluckily been scraped off by a jagged stone on the beach. What made it hurt even more was the stinging sea water. I limped back to my hotel room cursing whatever made me think to run by 2am on the beach was a good idea knowing fully well that my vision is not near the vicinity of 20/20.

I had to wash off and clean the injured sites with care. It hurt like hell. Water running down a fresh wound is a terrible idea. It can even make grown men cry. You see, this is the thing. Making something better most times involves a great deal of pain even worse than what you’re trying to ameliorate. It sucks, but as long as you can focus on what your aim is (in my case, wound not laden with germs)….it makes the pain a little easier to bear. It takes a great deal of courage as well. I can say I successfully fought a battle and won..

Nah, my battle was only beginning. I made an unfortunate decision the next day by wearing tight skinny jeans which clung to my knees and of course to my fresh wound which I had failed to dress. I tried and tried and failed but I couldn’t get the damn jeans off later in the day. Luckily for me, an angel in the shape of my friend helped me take them off. My skin which clung to the jean came off as well. I can’t begin to describe the searing pain that ensued. However, some friends do make things a little easier to handle. I might not have been able to get the jeans off on my own. When you have troubles or problems, it’s definitely great to have someone in your corner who could help.

My scars are on my knees. They’re still in the process of formation, wound healing has barely commenced so…..they’re not quite scars yet. Pre-scars maybe? Anyway, can anyone tell me if scars can be prayed away? Nothing is impossible. If this fails, remember what I said about silver linings? The scars would remind me of the amazing time I had in Ibeno Beach, Eket. I’ll come to accept that scars don’t necessarily have to connote something bad. At times, they’re of situations we’ve overcome or good memories that we will never forget because they are literally engraved in our skin.

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September the 18th

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“Beware the ides of March”, Shakespeare wrote eons ago.
Why is this important? It aptly summarises how I feel about the 18th of September. If someone had told me anything about September the 18th a month ago, I would have laughed just as Julius Caesar did because dates are just dates….I used to think. Now, I know better.

If you’re not still sure what the 18th of September heralds, I’ll help you. It’s the day slated for the Part II MB examination.

You know that Bible passage where Jesus talks about the devil coming like a thief in the night? That’s how the MB date came to me. It’s safe to say that I was in shock for some time. I might even still be in normovolemic shock as I write this. I’m not sure anymore.

The only thing I’m sure of is that this MB has to end with shouts of joy. All I can say is, “By all means necessary ‘book must enter’ “. One might have to become a wizard to condense 11 months of excruciating learning into 2 weeks of tedious preparation which has to culminate in success. What other choice is there really?

“P&P will not hold me back!” Can I get an Amen? You can say it out loud if you want.

Pretty soon, the sleepless nights will begin (I really wish I could mumble ‘God forbid’..but there’s truly no other way). I’m ready to embrace the sleepless nights with shaky arms yet, strong resolve. I have done this before.The first MB huddle was crossed, sleepless nights and all. I will repeat this to myself whenever I seem to forget or when the going gets tough. If all these seem to fail, I would make my MB timetable my screensaver so that I never lose sight of the goal. Moreover, Philippians 4:6 will be my daily motivation.

Finally, unlike Julius Caesar, I will not be caught unawares. The 18th of September would not take me by surprise.

PS: 29th September,2017 is also not just another day. It is poignant.
PPS: My Robbins & Cotran textbook is calling out to me. I have to attend to it….sadly.

Static

I’m still angry
That you travelled and didn’t let me know
Why were you in such a hurry?
You didn’t even pack your things.

I’m in your room
You left your light on
How could you?
You always complain about the light bill.

Alright, my anger has dissipated
I’m just wondering
How can I reach you?
You don’t pick up the phone when I call.

I don’t know what to believe
I’m starting to get condolence messages
What does it mean?
I’m still waiting for you to come home.

Your room is still the way you left it
I lay awake on your bed most nights
What do I think about?
How soon I can see you.

It’s been three months now
Maybe it’s true
Are you coming back?
Please answer me.

The silence is so loud
Okay, I think I’ve gotten message
How wouldn’t I?
When the line is static.

I have to give your eulogy
I’m still numb
Could you help me?
Never mind.

I just remembered
How much you loved to make me happy
Why is this important?
I have chosen to be happy.

Your call is never coming
I’ve put down the phone
Was it difficult?
Yes, but I choose to not be sad anymore.

Perfect

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Time and again, you complain
That your voice is hoarse and croaky
That your smile is crooked and shows too much teeth
That your eyes are rimmed with dark circles and eye-bags.

I laugh because,

Weren’t you ever told
That your voice is a cold spring in the Sahara?

How did you not know
That your smile puts diamonds to shame?

You mean you never heard
That your eyes light up more than the sun?

How can you not see how perfect you are?

-Treasure A.C.

Collectibles

The thing about me is ….I’m a ‘quotes person’. I pounce on them and collect them from everywhere, kind of like how a scavenger would. It has always been fascinating to me how a string of words forms coherent sentences which could somehow find a way to pierce the heart deeper than a double-edged sword. To me, the quotes I connect with are an embodiment of this. Indeed, quotes to a writer (maybe, even to the reader) are the equivalent of punchlines to a rapper.

After a huge internal battle, I can boldly write that these are just a few of my favourite quotes.

1. “This is what I like about photographs. They’re proof that once, even if just for a heartbeat, everything was perfect.” ……This is how I unashamedly justify my love for pictures.

2. “There should be no room in your life for regrets. If in the moment of doing you felt clarity, you felt certainty, then why feel regret later?” …I couldn’t have put it any better than Yaa Gyasi did.

3. “A diamond is a chunk of coal that did well under pressure.” ……Suffice to say, I remind myself of this when the going gets tough and I need to trudge on.

4. “Don’t trust everyone you meet. Even salt looks like sugar.” …….my Nigerian mother would love this one.

5. “I refuse to tiptoe through life only to arrive safely at death.” ……now this paints a very graphic image I can’t seem to put out of my mind. It’s engraved in my hippocampus.

6. “..And there will be someone that comes along one day and offers you an entire galaxy when you only expected a single planet.” ……….Do I believe this? Hell yes! I am a hopeful romantic.

7. “Things are never as bad as they seem.” ……I’m too much of an optimist and this line from ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ aptly captures how I feel.

8. “The process of giving is without limits.” …..

9. “The road to success is not straight. There is a curve called failure, a loop called confusion, speed bumps called friends, red lights called enemies, caution lights called family. You will have flat tyres but if you have a spare called determination, an engine called perseverance, a driver called God, you will make it to the place called success.” …….this sounds like something my pastor would say while the congregation says “Amen! ”

10. “You get one life, so do it all.” – Bobby Axelrod in the TV series #Billions. Yes, yes, yes. Do it all!

If you have a quote you love so much, feel free to share in the comments! ✍🏼. I would love to know about it. Like I said earlier, I’m a quotes person 🙂

Stories Untold

He said, ‘Hi, I’m Dave. I think we’ve met before
She said ‘No’ with a surreptitious smile
He asked for her name. ‘Ada’, she replied with a glare
‘Can I have your number’, he persisted
She sized him up, thought for a second, then gave it to him
And so it began, a couple of calls here and there
They texted all day long, plain words at first
Next, they graduated to emojis and heart smileys.

They went on their first date
It was nothing amazing, but he made her laugh
You know, the genuine kind of laughter
For the first time, she didn’t have to fake enthusiasm
By the third date, it felt like they had known each other forever
He wanted two kids, she wanted four
They struck a bargain. Three was the perfect number
She hated to cook, he loved to cook. It was a match made in heaven.

When he asked her to be his girlfriend, she told him she’d think about it
But she knew that her mind was made up from the first day
Some things you just know
She said ‘yes’ to him on Friday the 14th of March

His friends teased him, calling him a woman wrapper
He laughed, because he knew that a woman like her was like Halley’s Comet
She didn’t mind that he cried when Arsenal lost 5-1 to Bayern Munich
She didn’t mind that on their fifth date he couldn’t afford that restaurant
When he said ‘I love you’, he never wanted to say those words to anyone else.

Two years later, he proposed with a 14-carat diamond
14 to represent the date she agreed to be his girlfriend
She took him home to meet her dad in his home with his second wife
He said she couldn’t get married to Dave. He was Yoruba, they were Igbo.
Dave paid no mind and officially introduced her to his family as his fiancée
His mother said she wouldn’t let him marry someone from a ‘broken home’
He didn’t. He got married to Funmi, who hated that he watched football.
Ada got married to Tochukwu who never made her laugh

June 2nd 2018, Arsenal wins PSG 2-1 in the Champions League final
They remember each other for a fleeting second and look at their spouses.