It is not very hard for Nigerians to talk a lot about all that could be a bit better in the country because what we see as obstacles to the progress of our efforts are constant reminder every second of the day. I would not remind you of any as today is all about what is going well in Nigeria.
In her recent article, Ada Stella Apiafi at I-Nigeria, stresses the importance of embracing our people and the efforts lots are making to contribute to improving the country. She implores us to talk about Nigerians like Uwa Osamede Imafidon, a young lady who had excelled academically at a university in Texas, USA, Nigerians participants at the 2012 London Olympics games, among many others. The article is all very good and I agree that we are what we say about ourselves.
I would also like to add to the list of all that is working in the country. Since we are all connected to one another one way or the other, here are a couple of instances where not so famous people are making differences in our communities.
My mother was seriously ill a few months ago. How she got to this stage untreated – long story. Given her state at the time, I cried, a lot. My family did not have a single success story about the teaching hospital in the area so we decided to take her to a private hospital so we could at least get a proper diagnosis. After the initial prognosis, we did bunch of tests: blood, urine and all, after which was concluded my old lady had advanced diabetes. I cried some more. Dr Uche told us that because he is not expert in the area, we were to take my mother to Obafemi Awolowo Teaching Hospital where they have experts and appropriate equipment to treat my mother. Hearing this from the doctor, I had a massive flashback – not a good one. Again, since it is all about positives today, I will stick to just that.
Dr Uche told my siblings and I that given our mother’s situation our best bet was to go to the teaching hospital and assured us she would be looked after properly once admitted. Having no other option as the other reputable private hospital around said they did not have any expert in the area to treat my mother, we took a leap of faith and went to the teaching hospital. By this time, Dr Uche gave her some medicine but we needed to act fast.
As soon as she arrived at the appropriate ward of OAU teaching hospital Ile Ife, she was taken into the emergency room and monitored for 24hrs while they use high-tech machines to monitor her progress. The next day, when her condition stabilised a bit, she was transferred to the standard ward and there again her progress was being strictly monitored. On the third day, she regressed a bit, I was worried and my siblings and I cried some more! Then my sister spoke to the doctor in charge and explained what she has witnessed, we thought a nurse lapsed in her duty of administering my mother’s drug at the right time. The doctor promised that he would see to the case, which we believed he did. My mother made significant recovery daily and was only allowed to go home when the doctors and nurses were completely satisfied that her condition has stabilised. Now she goes for monthly check ups. Being a bit of Thomas (remember, the disciple?), I checked all the drugs and that little Accu-Chek device up online, they were all the same treatment used all around the world.
My mother was treated with dignity and we are today happy to have her with us. Yes, we did pay for all our medicines which is the lion share of the cost as they do all around the world. Dr. Adebayo quickly realised my siblings and I were ladies and he gave his time to listen to us, treated our mother with deserved respect. Kudos, to Nigerian doctors and specifically the folks at OAU teaching hospital, Ife who treated my mother.
I promised I would give you two instances that has helped to restore my faith in Nigeria hospitals. here we go:
Do you wonder why there are so many people with mental illness on Nigeria roads. They are all around us, in villages, towns and cities, living by road sides. Our law makers moving mentally challenged individuals from one state to the other – no one wants to be responsible for them. Yes, to have psychiatry problem in Nigeria is worse than any crime you can think of. Okay, all about positives now.
A very dear aunt of mine have a son who suffers from mental illness. David had his first episode when he was about 10 years old. He is a quiet boy, loved to play hard and had many friends. So this day, he cried endlessly and refused to get away from the corner that he sat at. That was the beginning as I was told. Mental illness is still largely seen as taboo, no one want to talk about it. My aunt suffered in silence for a long time until she confided to my a few family member. Since that the first episode, David has constant episodes and the solution has always been to take him to various churches and being prayed so the men and women of God could cast out the ‘devil’ from him. Four years ago, he became really restless, a little bit violent not to any of his siblings but to himself. He was again taken to a church where he was heavily sedated for the duration of his stay, he was happy to be out to say the least.
About a year ago, I called my aunt one afternoon to say hello. She has been crying for days as David was sent home from school because he was crying loudly in class and would not stop so the teacher helped to get him home safely. At this time, my aunt had lost hope and didn’t want to go back to the church where his son was turned to vegetable. For the first time, she was ready to listen. I told her what I read about mental illness and the fact that it is a global issues that David’s mental illness could not be blamed on the witches and wizards of the village. Coincidently, I had just listened to Ruby Wax, an American comedian talk on her battle with mental illness so I was able to share her story with my aunt. We did a bit of research together and found out that University College Hospital (UCH) Ibadan has a well run psychiatry program. She was reluctant and worried about the cost but I encouraged her that we needed a proper diagnosis as there were different types of mental illness.
My aunt went with David on a Thursday and after the initial registration, seeing a doctor was not a long wait. She was seen by a lady doctor who collected family medical history (ha ha in Nigeria), my aunt was made comfortable and treated like a fellow human that she was able to give the doctor all the information that she needed. David was diagnosed, prescribed medication and given appointment to come back in a month. David reacted badly to one of his drugs on the second day, my aunt went back to explain to the doctor, she felt she was listened to. Now David only have to go to UCH every three months, his mood swings improved significantly, my aunt says he has not had any episode at all for a long time. Needless to say I am glad for both my aunt and David, he could now lead a normal life and focus on his studies, he is 18 years old now.
Now my big thank you to the doctors, nurses, medical assistants and all the staff of UCH psychiatry ward for treating my cousin!
I am sure you too have one or two positive things to say about Nigeria/Nigerians. Share your stories.