I rushed into the paediatric pharmacy and grabbed an ampoule of adrenaline without even saying anything to anybody. The last thing on my mind was pleasantries, I almost didn’t see anybody, I raced back into the ward, every step mattered, and every stride was a double of the previous one. The nurse was already far into the CPR (Cardiaopulmonary resuscitation), all over her face was a determination to save Quinta’s life. This was not a time to speak medical jargons, there was no time to debate and show off our academic prowess. No explanation was needed at this time.
Dr Kate collected the syringe from the other nurse who withdrew the adrenaline from the ampoule and she thrust it through her heart, the benefit far outweighed the risk. This was after no response was gotten when it was given IV (intravenously). She thrust it with such intensity I thought it would come out through her back. Was that an injection or a stabbing? I thought. But who cares right now?
She was only 8.
I quickly remembered when I was 8, I wanted to be a neurosurgeon then, I wanted to be like Ben Carson because of his inspiring story. I remembered how I was always taking 1st position in class then (I have evidences…lol). It was a contest between Amara and I and I always left her in second place (shout out to Amara Ifebueme). I remembered how I had dreams just like this lifeless damsel.
I was jolted back to reality by the consultant’s words. I couldn’t understand them because he spoke in Hausa; “ Ya mutu” he said.
Her eyes were still open, though she was unconscious, I just hoped for the best. When Dr Gyang withdrew, I sensed danger but his face was pale and expressionless so I couldn’t conclude. I was still looking at her drug chart, trying to confirm she received the right doses as at when due.
Actually,I forgot to pray. I didn’t mutter any words, probably because I felt we were doing enough or I just didn’t remember to, I really don’t know why but it didn’t cross my mind. The nurse closed the cubicle and prepared her body, the attendants came in- the mortuary attendants. How did they know already? Are they always on standby, waiting like this? Everything happened so fast. That was when I realized what had happened.
“Get her mother to sign the paper”. Dr Gyang said again
What paper? I thought
I had never witnessed this in my entire life. This would be the end of our ward round for this patient. Her mother had signed the death certificate. The folder was closed; we had to move to the next patient. I was stunned, how can we just move on as though nothing had happened (I was told later that that’s how its done) oh no!
I wanted to sit down and cry. I wanted to scream at the top of my voice. She left, right in front of me. A beautiful young damsel just moved out of the earth. All her dreams will now be covered in the sand.
I was devastated; I was even more stunned at how everybody behaved as if nothing had happened, that’s how much of a novice I am in this matter. May be they were used to seeing people die right in front of them, under their watch, I wasn’t. Maybe they felt they had done all they could possibly do, again I didn’t think so. I turned to my Chief
“Ma, where are they taking her to?” I needed to be sure
“To the mortuary” she replied, very briefly. I had wanted her to say more. Something like, they were taking her to the ICU (Intensive care unit) for closer monitoring. But it was not so. She was dead.
“But ma, are you sure she is dead? How can they be so sure? They are already taking her away, just like that. We can’t just conclude” I retorted
She smiled and I continued, “they should have waited for some time, do some tests, it’s too early to conclude”
She smiled again
“There was no pulse again Nasa, didn’t you see when the Dr kept checking. The adrenaline was even injected directly into her heart, yet there was no response”
“I know ma, but I read in my textbook that sometimes when people’s heart stop beating, there will still be some brain activity for some minutes”
“Ya mutu! She is dead!” She replied getting rather upset
I couldn’t believe it. I imagined her waking up in the mortuary; I wished I could stop them and do something, anything at all. Throw myself on her to awaken her, shout into her ears, or perform one miracle like that. I imagined her legs moving or even her hands. Oh how I wished, that’s all I could do- wish. She was just 8. How could God let such happen?
“Change the artesunate to IV quinine 10mg/kg over 4 hours with 5% Dextrose saline, we can’t lose this one too” Dr Gyang was talking to the Senior Reg who called the attention of the nurse to set up the second IV line. It was for Aisha, a 14 year old patient, another beautiful damsel.
“This people will never come to the hospital on time, he began telling us, they wait till the child is in a terrible state before they bring her here for us to perform magic”. He then spoke to the girl’s father in Hausa. I guess he was telling him to quickly go and buy the drug he just prescribed and scolded him for not coming on time.
I had gone through this patient’s folder earlier on; she was being managed for severe malaria just like my departed Quinta. She was also unconscious but the prognosis looked promising.
“Pharmacist, how many doses of artesunate is this patient supposed to receive? He was talking to me.
I was still lost in my thoughts and I didn’t even know he was talking to me. He lowered his spectacles like my old Professor in school giving me that look of ‘do you think we are joking here?’
That was when I opened my mouth to talk, but no words came out.