A Cross

An overview of how life is from the other side of the world (hospital).

"This is how they survive from months to months. This is how they sleep today, wake tomorrow, brush on the bed, take a shower on the bed, and watch the rays infiltrate through the windows without seeing the sky vomit or swallow the sun like a ruminant animal. A tube is passed directly into the stomach through the nose. The liquid is what they take morning, afternoon, and night. Then the sensory receptors on their tongues must have been dormant as the mouth becomes useless. If you ask me, I would say to you that is how they feed.

Another tube goes in from the frontal part of their neck. A hole made already finds its way into the trachea. You hear a whizzing sound through the tube. When the cough is initiated, you hear that ungodly sound-like that you hear while blowing across new white nylon, trying to force the closed mouth open. When you ask me again, I would still tell you that is how they breathe every day. Buried in between their legs, you find the urinary catheter. This helps urinating for those who can no longer control the action. If you ask further, I tell you that is their own means of urinating. When you hear in situ, it means that the prosthetic is still in place. You mention IV line; I say in situ. You mention chest tube; I say in situ.

You see, their lives have been in support. Dangling on water or air bed to prevent pressure sore since it's a new home reached. These persons have brothers, sisters, mothers, or fathers who toil on the alter of nosocomial infections-those infections one can get from the hospital. For these patients, someone is there taking care of them, such as loved ones at night, setting their mats, and lying on the floor. Sometimes, they wake up in the middle of the night when their bedridden sons and daughters need urgent help. Day in and day out, they inhale disinfectants until it becomes the norm for their sense of smell. If you still ask me, I will tell you, yes, you celebrated your Valentine's day with your loved ones yesterday. You all drank and ate happily. That is fine. But you see, sometimes what these people need is someone who would assure them that they would be alright. These are people whose lives are on support and need your love.

They are not there because it's their homes or working places, you know?. These are people whom we used to dine with when things were good. People we so much admired then..." Dr. Kemba approached the patient lying on the bed. He placed the back of the written hand over his head, probably to feel his body temperature. He continues... This time I no longer pay attention to his speeches. This is obviously a cross to bear. I wake around 5 am every day I have clinical posting. I take my bath and eat my breakfast. I have to be on time to meet up with a bus called Gbagba for less expenditure. When I enter the road, the sounds from passing vehicles, those from the aged gbagba, and those I would hear in that ungodly hospital accumulate. I place my earpiece and play "Lead me to the Cross." I drop in front of my department after the long stressful ride and head straight to my unit.

Little discussion before ward round. When I enter the Adult unit with my chief, I see him again, lying helplessly. He has not even been able to turn for many months now, coupled with the chest tube he carries. I know we are back again. To hear him scream at the slightest touch-complaining of pain all over his body. They ask me, is he actually still going to marry? Does he feel the soil beneath his feet anymore? Is there any hope for him to witness how cars raise dust and repaint nearby buildings brown during harmattan, and does he think of driving his own car when his highest prognosis is on a wheelchair? I tug on my hair for those voices to disappear. I hear his voice over and over. He already has bed sore.

All his joints are frozen, and only his eyes rotate in the socket. I see his pain. I see the months yet to spend lying supine, I see money yet to vanish from his parents, and I see the future of a young boy dangling on a water bed forever. I say to myself, 'God gives us the best treatment plan for him!' I turn my eyes to the other side, feeling bad. I see another man intubated and gasping and seeking oxygen from a nearby oxygen cylinder. Those voices return..."You think you have seen all!" But then, I knew it wasn't Dr. Kemba speaking to me. 

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