BLINKERED- GRACE OCHIGBO
KEEPING THE CHIN UP
If you have been following up your notes from the beginning of the semester, then revision week is the most exciting time for you. Otherwise, this is the time you find students sleeping, waking up, brushing and dressing up in class all in the name of reading over night or TDB- Till Day Break- as it’s commonly called.
Grace, being a disciplined student, seems to be having a relaxed mind towards the fast approaching exams, her final exams as the case may be. She is done with her project work and really can’t wait for time so she could bid farewell to the school. Her only call for concern now was her dear friend. Even though she had been checking up on Tonia through her mum, she really wished she could do more, or rather, do better. She practically had abandoned their room in the last couple of days as she spends the bulk of her time at Licia’s place. Their room feels so lifeless without Tonia.
She turned her head in the direction she heard her name from, as she sluggishly crossed the road. She saw a lady waving her down to wait from afar. She quickly climbed onto the pedestrian lane beside the road and waited.
“Grace! It’s been a very long time! How are you?” The lady asked as she hurriedly walked closer to meet Grace.
“I-am-fine…” Grace replied, slowly rocking her memory
The lady noticed this from Grace’s vacant look and decided to help out immediately
“Oh! I am Lara, Am Jerry’s friend and Tonia’s classmate as well…” She started, trying to remind Grace, “…I accompanied Jerry to your room on one occasion. Can you recall now?”
Memories of that Sunny afternoon Grace came to the room to meet Tonia, Jerry and another lady flashed back in her mind. Even though she didn’t pay much attention to the lady’s face that day, the name sure rings a bell,
“Yes Lara, sorry! A lot of things on my mind lately dear. How have you been?” Grace asked amidst smiles
Lara giggled with excitement.
“Yes I know! Plus the upcoming exams and stress. I can imagine how hard it is for final year brethren like you guys. Even Jerry too is so engrossed in his project work lately”
Grace chuckled proudly, “What can we do? We have to leave so you guys can take over.”
They walked a little farther from the roadside towards a shade. The sun can be at its best in the afternoons like this.
“So Grace, it’s about Tonia…” Lara started, going straight to the point “…she hasn’t been coming for revision classes which is quite unlike her. Aside that, her lines seem to be permanently switched off these days. Where is she?” Lara asked with her left eyebrow raised.
Grace took a deep breath and clutched her handbag more firmly. “Tonia has been bedridden since last Friday” she spilled out
Blood immediately drained from Lara’s face as she stood before Grace rooted to the ground. She may have acted ‘the enemy’ before Tonia a lot of times, but deep down she really did care about her.
“What?!! Bedridden?! Where?! How?! What happened to her?!” Lara mumbled out all these questions simultaneously without waiting for answers
“She collapsed on Friday night and was initially taken to the school clinic but her parents relocated her back to their family hospital for more intensive care” Grace narrated, shaking off a fly from her leg
“Oh! No! What did they say happened to her?” Lara asked, looking really disturbed.
“Well the doctor said she had suffered from serious emotional stress and that resulted in crisis of some sort” Grace selectively responded to Lara’s question. She wasn’t going to tell anyone about Tonia’s health condition. Not at all. Not when the latter’s family confided in her alone.
Lara’s teeth clasped around her bottom lip and her eyes rolled upwards as if seeking answers from above.
‘What could Grace possibly mean by emotional stress? Tonia was in class on Friday morning hale and hearty despite the fact that no one knew her where-about after that time. Or was it the news about Jerry’s proposal that caused the emotional stress? What have I done?’ Lara muttered beneath her breath absentmindedly.
“I will leave you now Lara…” Grace said, bringing her back from her thoughts, “…And please pray my girl gets well soon for me. Bye” She added and walked away.
Lara remained motionless with horror.
I feel enough strength in my bones today especially this evening. Maybe because I’ve been talking and laughing with dad, mum and King David, Success didn’t come with them today. Or perhaps it is this sumptuous meal am eating. Whichever way, Mum sure know how best to prepare my favourite food, which is noodles. It’s funny right? Yeah I know. But I love noodles to a fault, especially when prepared by my mum. If nothing else can, the love shown to me from my family alone can raise up dead dry bones.
“Doctor, good evening!” Everyone greeted cheerfully as Dr Wale came in for the ward routine. I quickly handed over my plate of food to mum
He responded fondly as usual and moved over to me.
“How are you doing today, Moppet?” He asked, raising up my lower arm and checking the site where an insertion was made earlier. He then turned to my dad…
“Truly my Moppet is a very careful person. See, the injury of the minor surgery performed on her the last time has healed up just in few weeks.”
I blushed shyly as he drew dad’s attention to my forearm before continuing…
“You know it was a wise decision the synthetic arteriovenous bridge graft was inserted into her arm during your last hospital visit. As if I knew, as if I saw it coming too. Else by now, we would have been considering emergency options, like using a central venous catheter. The danger is that, the latter, which is the catheter is more prone to infections than using a graft or a primary arteriovenous fistula like this one we used” My dad nodded in the affirmative as if he understood all those medical jargons the doctor was saying. He may. Who knows whether the doctor already explained the stuff to him earlier? Well, that’s their concern.
I don’t know if Dr Wale signalled dad unknown to us but dad held mum up and walked out of the ward room with David including the nurse that came in with him. He made sure the door was shut properly before he began talking.
“So how exactly are you feeling, my girl?” Dr Wale asked, taking his seat beside me on the bed.
I smiled and sat up quickly too. I knew he wanted having a discussion with me, but for some weird reasons, I was really nervous. And for the first time am seeing the elderly man without his eyeglasses. I coughed lightly trying to figure out the appropriate answer for his question,
“Medically, I don’t know what you guys will say. Like I barely understood all the stories you told my dad awhile ago. But obviously, am fine. Though I still feel lightheaded and weak, this is definitely way better than the previous days” I responded slowly sticking my tongue out of my mouth countless times while speaking. This made Dr Wale laugh. He knew I would normally find a little trouble out of everything, he was already that used to me.
“Remember during your last hospital visit, I told you about the condition of your kidney, right?” He started looking at me and I nodded in response. “You also remember we foresaw then the need of putting you on dialysis too right?”
I nodded my head again in agreement. It always feel good, matured and I feel proud of myself whenever the doctor discusses my health issues with me. Being an adult can be that sweet too.
“With the recent crisis you went through due to some emotional stress from reasons you’ve refused to disclose to anyone, we had to run series of renal function tests on you afresh. And as it is now Darling, we can’t risk even the slightest drop, any further than this, in your renal function before doing the needful anymore…” He paused to catch his breath as I listened quietly and continued almost immediately “…You, unlike most I know, have lived well with sickle cell disease over the years, even before it aggravated recently to sickle cell nephropathy. I already explained to your parents the need to place you on haemodialysis henceforth, this would be for the main time while we include your name on our awaiting list of patients in need of kidneys for renal transplant…” He paused again, searching my eyes with his to see my reaction, “…and we wouldn’t want a cadaveric organ for the transplant, that’s why am using this as a temporary measure while we await a life kidney donor. Meanwhile, I’ve made a lot of calls to other federal medical centres and few hospitals within Nigeria to that effect and am hopeful something positive will pull through in no distant time from now” He said with a very reassuring tone.
I swallowed. The news was not easy to digest but unlike other times, I smiled instead of crying. I’ve downloaded and read every article I could find on the internet linked to sickle cell disease and kidney function. So should I say I was already prepared for this day? But can someone ever be ready enough for death?
“OK doctor, so when do we do it?” I asked, showing no expression whatsoever on my face. My comfortable disposition almost robbed Dr Wale of his next statement.
“For real!?” He exclaimed excitedly, ” Right away Moppet. The dialysis machine has been set up with all the requirements, I’ve even gone the extra mile of coaching your parents on how to use it just in case. I’ll be setting you on home-treatment but for the main time, you will be taking your home treatment here in this hospital until I am ready to discharge you” He said, grinning playfully at me.
My eyes popped open as I exclaimed, “Right away? Doctor my exam is in two weeks, how will I do it”
The doctor chuckled before answering me.
“Your mum already told me about your exams Darling, so I made extra provisions for that. All thanks to advanced technology, newer home dialysis machine systems are very portable and one can even go on travels with it.”
“Really? Wow!” I said in amazement
“For the one and half weeks you will be here with me, you will undergo intensive dialysis sessions for several hours every day. This will definitely improve your condition a great deal. And I already called a doctor friend of mine, the owner of Good Shepherd Medical centre…” He said seeking confirmation from me
“Yes I know the hospital, it’s not far away from my school” I affirmed.
“Very good then, he will assign a nurse to you who would help with the dialysis sessions there when you resume. Only that, it’ll be nocturnal haemodialysis this time”
I squeezed my forehead, looking confused ” What is that!?”
“Oh!! It means your sessions will only be during the nights. This should avail you the whole day to attend better to your exams. Don’t worry my Moppet, l have everything covered for you. You’ll even do better in this exam than before” He consoled me, patting my palm
I sighed deeply. “Amen Doctor. I’ll be doing all my revisions right here on the hospital bed.” I said with a little pain building up in my voice
Dr. Wale patted me affectionately and tried to encourage me,
“It’s well my dear, you …!” He was still talking when the door flung open.
Our eyes turned immediately in the direction of the door. I hissed on sighting who walked in.
“Hey Son, you should have waited for me in the office. How did you know I was here?” Dr Wale asked quickly as the person walked over to my bed. He looked very casual today in just a polo on jean.
“Sorry dad, I thought you needed the glasses urgently as mum made it seem, so I asked a nurse to direct me here. More so, I am quite familiar with this ward room.” He said winking at me with a smile plastered on his face. ‘Has something come loosed in his head?’ I marvelled as my shocked eyes begged him to seal his mouth before I turned to Dr Wale
“Tosin is your son?” I asked as my front head furrowed
“Oh, you know him already? Yes! He is my second son” Dr. Wale replied, chortling proudly.
“Second son? I thought you had only…”
“Yes Moppet?” He interrupted me already seeing where I was headed. “Being my only daughter doesn’t make her my only child. She is the last of my three children. Their eldest is a consultant haematologist married and based in the states. Moppet is currently taking a specialty in Nephrology Nursing at Harvard university, after her first degree in Nursing from the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University, lle-ife. She should even be back on break in a week thereabout” he turned to Tosin who nodded in the affirmative before continuing, “And Tosin here is the only one among them that lived all his life in the States with his mother. They both just got into this country about a month ago after her retirement from active service as a Dentist” Dr. Wale explained, taking his eyeglasses from Tosin’s hand.
It is now clear where Tosin’s untainted British accent came from and the more I think about it now, I see the resemblance between father and son. Tosin never mentioned it or should I say I didn’t even give him any chance to familiarize with me well enough?
“Now my eyeglasses is here, let me get your parents to sign some documents in my office before we get to work, be warming up for us!” Dr. Wale said and got up. He led the way out before Tosin followed after him, shutting the door firmly behind them.
I sank into the bed stunned and speechless by this new discovery.
To be continued.