Without thinking, I said “one dose sir”.
He turned to the next person who also said one dose; he was a medical student and probably said one dose because I said so.
I was beginning to gather my thoughts; the previous incident had left me disenchanted. How did he manage to cope when I felt so bereft?
In a matter of seconds, I regained my composure. I blurted out like someone who had just woken up from a trance, “Its 3 doses sir, 3 doses at 0hour, 12 hour and 24 hour”. He just ignored me and continued pressing his phone. I wasn’t bothered though.
We were waiting for the girl’s father who had gone to buy the quinine injection. The 2nd IV line was almost ready. Everything was in place. Dr Kate, the Reg kept checking her vital signs ever 5 minutes, we couldn’t take chances this time. She was already given dobutamine and the nasal canular was adjusted to make sure she was getting enough oxygen, everything was under control.
When I leaned closer to pick up her drug chart, I noticed the swelling on her legs; it had better not be cerebral edema- a major complication of severe malaria in bedridden patients especially children. The consultant’s eyes followed mine and he quickly moved closer to examine it while I was still hesitating. There was trouble, she had developed cerebral edema. Her test result showed haemoglobinuria and proteinuria, this was not encouraging at all.
There was also need to suction her, to keep away fluid from her airways which could complicate the situation. It was quickly done and that was all we could do for now. Other questions were thrown to me, basically regarding her antibiotic therapy and we debated on the prognosis, it was poor for the same reason the other patient died…they didn’t come on time, so many things had gone wrong.
I could imagine her school mates coming to school this morning and being told that their classmate had malaria and was in the hospital. They would probably take it lightly when they hear its malaria just like I used to take it when I was in school. But malaria just claimed an 8 year old life. I remembered all the times I thought of it as an akamu case (a simple sickness). Now I know better.
With that, we left and went back to our duty post. I couldn’t stop thinking of 8 year old Quinta. I wondered if she knew Christ, had she reached the age of accountability as we were taught? I assured myself that she must be with the Lord now. I remembered how we were taught that when you die, you will join a very long queue that got longer every second. I imagined Quinta on the queue, had it reached her turn? What would the angels say? Proceed or Depart? I quickly brushed such thoughts aside, as they were childish and had no scriptural back up.
I came to work the next day with a determination to go check on Aisha, she must be doing pretty well today after the quinine infusion. I hope she was conscious now. I went with my chief, who also had similar interests.
When we got to the EPU (Emergency paediatric unit) her bed was empty. I was so glad; she must have been transferred from the EPU to the main ward. This was a good sign that she was conscious and probably fully awake. I hoped to talk to her, to hold her hand and reassure her that she would be alright. I hoped to look into her lovely face and tell her that there was hope, and everything would be alright. I wanted to let her know that we were doing our best and she should stay strong for us, for me. I wanted to let her know how I would be checking on her everyday till she was discharged. I wanted her to know that we would become friends afterwards, I would give her my number and she could call me any time with her dads phone if she didn’t have one and I would always help her in any way I can, that way, we could build our friendship and I would show her the love of Christ. I had wanted to tell her all this the previous day but was unable to because of her state.
With my lines carefully thought out and rehearsed and my eyes filled with hope, I was already searching through the beds for her. I just had a soft spot for this one. We went to the nurses and requested to see her, my chief spoke with them in Hausa so I just stood and looked, smiling as though I understood what they were saying. I tried to pick a few lines but all I could grab was the usual greetings I was becoming familiar with. They were talking and laughing heartily so I just kept nodding my head and smiling. I guessed they had known each other earlier. When they were done, my chief turned to leave and motioned for me to join her
“Ma, aren’t we going to see her again?” I asked
She smiled at me, that same smile she gave me yesterday. Her face said something like, oh naïve Nasa, how I wish you can understand that there was nothing else we could do.
“Didn’t you hear what they said? All this Hausa I have been teaching you”
“No ma I didn’t o, you guys were talking very fast and I couldn’t pick much apart from the greetings”
We were already walking out of the ward. I was reluctant to leave yet I tried to catch up with her pace. I didn’t know what to think, but I hoped for the best. I quickly remembered that yesterday my chief suggested that she should be taken to the dialysis center for quick dialysis due to her poor renal function. The consultant thought otherwise and gave his reasons, I was too sad to listen to his long grammar. So I concluded that she must have been taken there as a last resort and we were headed there to see her.
Just then, she held my hand and spoke
“It wasn’t long after we left that she gave up”
I stood there transfixed; I held her and all I could say was “it’s a lie”
I leaned against her shoulder and I cried.
She just stood there and let me.
We were in the walk way and people were passing, we needed to make way for them but that was the least of my worries. The passersby just looked on and said nothing. We had to find somewhere to sit down; my legs couldn’t carry my body. She understood and led me into the pharmacy to sit and rest a while. I was shaking, trying to pull myself together and fight the stream of hot tears. I needed to be strong and put on my professional face (whatever that means). I hadn’t just lost a patient but a friend, a soon-to-be-friend.
I don’t know when am going to stop thinking about my Quinta and Aisha. How were their families, school mates and friends faring? My heart still goes out to them and I pray God will comfort them.
For now, am just going to sit here and wish I didn’t go for this ward round.