An adaptation from a true life experience…
I was eventually administered three injections including tetanus immunization. Nurse Ahmed told me I had sustained a fracture to my arm. She said the doctor would soon attend to me that he was busy with other victims in more serious state. Including that woman that looked otherwise normal? I kept imagining. Still, the doctor refused to come out of the screen. I tried to ask the lady nurse what the woman’s condition was and why the doctor had attended to her instead of me but she decently snubbed me. Later in the evening, the covering screen was removed and she was wheeled out of the ward, this time there was a white plastic-protector of sort around her neck. She was soon brought back with a big brown envelope stuck to her movable bedside. Not long after she was taken in, another doctor, this one was big and elderly, came in to attend to the accident victims in the ward, but I guessed she was his major reason for coming because he had spent time examining her and looking into different sections in the black film from the brown envelope. The big doctor once again broke my heart as he refused to spend one minute with me, all he said,
‘This man is apparently stable, get him a splint and let’s see what we can do for him later.’
Now two full days on admission. In the early hours of my third day on admission, many of us were still at the emergency ward, yet to be transferred to the surgical ward, when a man who had been staying with this woman suddenly fell on the ground and broke down in tears. He was the husband of the woman, and the news was, she had just given up the ghost. I was as shocked as my conscience. She never looked like someone that was dying. She didn’t even give any warning she would die that day. Her lifeless body was wheeled out while the husband was hauled away by sympathizers, and everything got back to normal in the ward.
The ‘tiny’ doctor, later came to check how I was doing. We had become friends within two days of my admission. I asked him why the woman died so mysteriously.
‘I’m afraid her death was not a mysterious one.’
‘How do you mean?’ I became so curious.
‘You remember when you were rushed here?’ he threw back.
‘Yes doc.’ I responded.
‘She neither groaned nor moved her body, that wasn’t some good signs at all… that was why I had to bypass you that was crying in pain and rush to her.’ He explained.
‘But I felt it was wrong of you to leave someone in pain for someone otherwise not in pain.’ His explanation wasn’t still making full sense to me.
‘You know, Mister, sometimes it’s better to be in pain than not. You know why? Because pain is a sign of life… because you could shout that much told me you were very much alive. But that woman, I wasn’t sure if she was breathing.’
‘Oh really?’ I said asked.
‘Yes, sir. When I got to her, she was breathing but wasn’t feeling anything from her legs to her chest. She couldn’t move any of her body also. You can’t imagine how serious her case was.’
‘The accident caused that too?’ I asked again. I became more interested in the woman’s case.
‘Yes, she sustained an injury in her spinal cord around her neck. It’s called Cord Compression Syndrome, hers was more serious because it happened up there at her neck. We tried to see how an urgent surgery could safe her but unfortunately as you saw this morning…’
‘You lost her.’ I intercepted.
‘Yes unfortunately. She suffered respiratory arrest; suddenly stopped breathing once the nerves supplying her muscles of respiration got involved.’
‘My God! So pain sometimes is a good sign. Hmm… it was a sign that I was still breathing.’ As I gave a deep sigh, my doctor friend returned an acknowledging nod. He picked his case file and left my bedside. I had just learnt an important lesson about pain and life.
Thanks for reading.