Kr-een kr-een, kr-een kr-een, it was a cold Christmas midnight, as he heard the consulting room phone ring deep in his sleep.
At the first ring, he felt he was dreaming, his ears were awoke but his mind wasn’t.
Then it rang louder and louder, he hopped out from the small consulting room bed, checked his wrist watch, it was 1:00 am, he picked the phone with his face drenched in tiredness and yawning all over.
Before he could say hello, the OPD nurse voiced, “Doctor Please there is a patient”.
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He said to himself, a patient at this time? What could be his problem? For a minute, he even forgot he was on a night shift and patients could come in at any time of the night.
The night before this particular one was very tiring as he had no inch of time to rest his exhausted body so his hope was to catch some soft rest this night only to be woken up by a patient at 1:00 AM. Ouch!
He got out, with a poor gait and his sleepy eyes half opened, He saw a middle-aged man, skinny looking with a dark brown skin tone sitting on a chair around the nurses table, his torso was leaning forward as if he wanted to pick something from the floor.
The nurse had checked his vitals already, his blood pressure was above normal but his other vitals were okay.
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It was time for history taking; his patient could not speak English nor Twi. All he could speak fluently was Ewe. He told himself, this encounter is going to be an interesting one.
At this point he had to bring the Ewe in him out and fully.
The following ensued, let’s take the patients name as OP.
Doctor: please you are welcome, what is your problem today? And why this time?
OP: “hmm, he paused for a few seconds, I came to visit my lover at Akoto Village and while I was returning, I fell ill on the way, so I decided to alight, get in here and get my health checked. Doctor, I don’t feel well at all, I am finding it quite difficult to breathe, my chest hurts and I have been coughing for some days now” he said with a jerky voice.
“I see, please for how long have you been sick and were you sick before you visited your supposed lover?” the doctor quizzed.
“I wasn’t really ill but I was having mild coughs before I made the journey. I came to meet her in the village so we could go for fishing at Afram Plains together. But for some reasons, we couldn’t go for the fishing, so I had to make my journey back to Oti in the Volta Region where I live. My feet also gets swollen occasionally,” he responded.
Doctor: ”Alright Sir, I will have to examine you so we can take care of you”
He examined and made a provisional diagnosis of Pnueomia and Left Ventricular failure, pending further investigations.
It was time for him to make some down payments for his medicines to be served, then they realized the man had no money on him, no NHIS, no mobile phone, no relative or friend’s phone number in mind for them to call, not even his wife’s, he was as empty and dry as the desert sand.
Quickly, the doctor reached out to his boss on phone, they decided to still go ahead and treat him, hoping that the following morning a relative or friend would show up.
They got all his essential medicines served, they started him on a full cylinder on Oxygen, stood by him and kept monitoring him as his condition rise and falls like the QPRS waves on an Electrocardiograph.
Fast forward the following morning, he had finished the full cylinder of oxygen. They got him another smaller oxygen cylinder which was the last left in the hospital.
While he was battling for his life on the propped up bed with oxygen tubes fixed to his flaring nostrils, they were also making frantic efforts to get at least someone who knows him.
While they were discussing the way forward, a patient who was also lying adjacent OP was eavesdropping on their convo and upon hearing the name of the town this supposed lover lives, he interrupted and told them he was also from that town and he could help them get the woman. They said to themselves, sweet Jesus, what a relief.
OP described how his lover looked like and the other patient having lived in Akoto Village for a while was able to guess right someone who fitted his anatomical description.
He gave them three phone numbers to call, the first number was incorrect, the second number went through but the one who picked up denied ever knowing the village let alone knowing the woman they were looking for.
They jumped onto the third number, fortunately it went through, and apparently it was the daughter of the woman they have been earnestly looking for. When she picked up, she identified the woman as her mother and admitted knowing the mother’s ‘boyfriend’ from a distance.
But there was a problem; she told the Doctor her mother started dating OP just two months ago contrary to the man’s own account of having been in an amorous relationship with this woman for over 3 years now, but you see, that wasn’t really their concern. They needed the woman, rain or shine.
When he asked the young lady whether or not she can help them get to the mother or relay the information of her ‘step father’s’ sudden ill health to her, she told him quite frankly on phone her mother is in a village far away, she has no phone and she cannot also go there to get her informed. When the doctor insisted, she chuckled and hanged up the phone. With a dropped jaw, he reacted like he has been served a cocktail of rancor, sadness and despair.
They said to themselves, their last hope was lost, the small oxygen left too was getting finished at the speed of light. OP’s oxygen saturation drops milliseconds upon taking out the nasal prongs and will only Plateau when reconnected.
For moments, streaks of tinny sweats started to line up on his shiny forehead as his chest moves up and down in distress. His breathe started to muffle. His predicament started becoming more tragic like the last scene in Titanic.
What are we going to do? The Doctor asked his nurses in disappointment, as he stared at the ‘frowning’ oxygen flow meter, it was running to the zero dial. Something really urgent needs done, a decision, a critical one for that matter needed to be taken.
The Doctor was at the crossroads, which hospital is going to accept a patient with no relative, no NHIS, No mobile phone, no money and in which state is he going to be transferred, owing to the fact that, their ambulance was out of road then and national ambulance too was not available.
He decided to make few calls to nearby hospitals and to his utmost dismay, the first hospital he called after hearing the situation the patient was in, told him they also had no oxygen.
Let’s try a different hospital, someone get me a Taxi, the Doctor said. They mobilized some funds and quickly a nurse got a taxi from the roadside.
With speed, the taxi entered the entrance of the hospital with its rear, immediately, the patient was carried on a stretcher, pushed to the Taxi by hospital orderlies clad in their overall apparel with their gloves on as though they were going to separate conjoined twins on the fourth floor surgical theatre of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital.
Within a blink of time, he was placed in the Taxi but while they were at it, his life clock kept ticking at a velocity of a spacecraft. He was dying but they couldn’t give up either.
“Tis a vile thing to die, my gracious lord, when men are unprepared and look not for it” Shakespeare.
It was imminent, death came standing beside him like a purveyor of sad news.
Like his almost lost soul was observing the taxi driver, just at the start of the engine, he took his last breath and his last heartbeat. Death took over.
“We lost him”, the doctor said to himself.
He was bathed in devastation all day as he felt he could have done a bit more despite having no options available.
As his subconscious mind replays the painful ordeal over and over again, he said to himself, this could be anyone.
(Life and its uncertainties)
Kojo Tordjo Victor © 2018.
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