For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a strong dislike for hospitals. Perhaps it stems from the time I had acute malaria and had to be admitted in a hospital. Student doctors used me to do yeye.
In the name of not finding a vein, they tapped the back of my hand until it was swollen. When the vein that was eventually found in that hand tissued, they switched to the other hand. Six bags of drips later, I was left with two swollen hands and a strong dislike for white coats and disinfectants and a phobia for needles.
I was so scared of needles that two years ago, it took four male nurses to hold me down for blood to be drawn for a HIV/Genotype/Blood group test. My screams and terrified pleas provided ample entertainment for the hospital staff and other patients alike.
And oh, they still weren’t able to draw the blood… As in, I bit, punched and scratched my way to freedom.
But that was two years ago. Today, I have friends and family who are doctors, but I trust only three – Dr. Udeme Ette, Dr. Maureen Onyenakasa and Dr. Ubong Ukut. These three have the best bedside manners ever! I mean, Maureen gave me an injection last year and I almost didn’t feel a thing. The pain came later sha.
These wonderful doctors don’t deceive you and cover their ignorance of a case with medical jargon. They encourage you to ask questions, educate yourself, do your own research and generally be informed.
Certainly not like some I know.
Like the one I met about a decade ago. I told him something was wrong with me. He checked me out, made his diagnosis and proffered a surgical procedure. I had the procedure done. A week later, the condition was back. And I said to him, “Doctor, I’m still having this pain. The surgery didn’t change anything.”
Know what he told me? “It’s because you’ve been on bed rest. It’s your back and the operation site that’s paining you and your mind is telling you it’s that problem that’s returned. Don’t worry, you’re fine.”
Three years later, I was tired of being in pain. So I went to another doctor. He ran a battery of tests and I spent good money that I’d have used in eating correct food. He also arrived at his own diagnosis.
Wanna hear it? “Your test results didn’t show anything. So there’s nothing wrong with you. The pain is in your mind. Go and be strong….you’re healed in Jesus name.”
I became all the more disenchanted with doctors and resorted to prayers and fasting (me wey like food) and positive confessions and declarations etc. Then one day, I realised that Google answereth all things. So I Googled my symptoms.
Meeehhhn, I remember sitting there, staring at the computer screen, wishing the answer was wrong. But it wasn’t. Armed with this new info, and with a referral to a specialist, after ten years and a surgical procedure, I was finally able to get a proper diagnosis and know the options available for treatment.
Why am I saying all these?
Many Nigerians sometimes carelessly leave matters of their health solely in the hands of doctors. In many cases, they trust their lives to itinerant medicine sellers, a.k.a the chemist down the road, a.k.a untrained shop pharmacists and their assistants, a.k.a Mama Nurse.
Many of these people are popularly called “Doctor” in the areas where they run their businesses. They do consultations and see patients. People run to them, some of whom are quacks, and get medicated for something that’s non-existent.
A woman I know lost a child to one Mama Nurse, who gave the kid an illegal injection in her pharmacy. Another died from a botched abortion carried out in a “pharmacy”.
They believe these men and women hook, line and sinker, without taking the time to consult others or even do their own research. Thus it is, that in Nigeria, a man is suffering from constant migraines and blurry vision and the doctor prescribes that he should have a few inches of hair cut from his head every month. Yes, this is true.
That is how also, another man had medical issues and the doctor wrote in the medical report that he has spiritual problems and should be well-cared for, else it will result in full madness.
Yet another doctor refused to let a patient have a Caesarean Section when her baby was in breech, because “it is unnatural. A real woman must feel pain during childbirth, if she’s to be a good mother.”
Am I saying that there aren’t patients who present symptoms, but have no real illness? Am I saying that some patients aren’t hypochondriacs who just love injections and hospital attention? Am I even saying that there aren’t patients who truly have spiritual problems? No, that’s not what I’m saying.
I’m simply saying that some doctors are over-sabi and some are under-sabi, and if you have a serious health problem, be sure to consult more than one doctor and be informed as well. Some patients have brought about their own diagnosis, because they were able to turn the minds of the doctors in a hitherto unconsidered direction.
This doesn’t mean that you should go to the doctor with a file of the Googled info under your arm and say, “Ehen, Mister/Miss/Missis Doctor, Google Medic says I’ve got glaucoma and tonsillitis. Oya, start giving me treatment.”
That’s unacceptable and I’m not sure any doctor would appreciate that. Be open to listen. Present your own findings, if you wish. Listen again. If you aren’t comfortable, find another doctor. Just make sure that you cover all the bases. In this day and age, if you’ve got the means, please be informed and leave nothing to chance.
Finally, know that some doctors may have graduated last in their class.
Others may have missed their calling to be juju priests or pastors.
By Eketi Ette @Ketimay