It is my second doctor’s appointment. I had woken up early, but am just too lazy to leave the bed. Maybe, it’s because I know the hospitals are still on strike, and there is a 50/50 chance my time is just going to be wasted again.
Besides, I’ll be leaving Benue State soon. I have just completed my National Youth service year. I don’t want to go through the process of enrolling for treatment here, and then repeating the whole thing when I return home in Asaba.
I grab my phone to say hello to my twitter followers, and – yes, to observe my dick-pic-watching routine. If you’re lucky, you could even get to see short videos, amateur videos to be precise. I start watching my dick pics, when NEPA brings their yeye light back. That is when I know I am not going anywhere today.
Then, I think about calling Batman, to let her know that I won’t be going to the hospital, before she starts bombarding me with questions. I call over three times, and she doesn’t pick up. Then I call my sister.
Me: Hello. Good morning. What of mummy?
Sister: She went out.
Me: I have been calling her and she’s not picking up. Where did she go to?
Sister: She went to the hospital.
Me: Hospital for what?
Sister: Something about lumps in her breast… We don’t know what it is yet.
Me: Ah-ah! Since when nah?
Sister: For like a week now, but she has been complaining of pains. When are you coming back?
Me: I’m on my way.
Sister: Buy me grapes o.
I quickly take my bath and put some clothes on. My bags are already packed. I take a drop to the park and join a bus to Asaba. It is time for me to go home.
The whole time on my way home, I am thinking. Lumps in the breast could mean cancer, right? So what is really going on with my family? Why us? Me first, now my mum? I find myself oscillating between sadness, anger and fear. My anger is mostly directed at God. I wonder why He just sits there, watching, playing big broad.
If anything should happen to my mum, I’ll…I’ll… That thought is in my head, but somehow I can’t bring myself to finish the sentence.
Several hours later, I am home. My sister gives me a warm welcome I am not expecting. Mum is already home when I arrive. She asks about my heath and all, but I am more concerned about her. She has lost some weight and looks pale. She tells me of her predicament and how she’s been going from one hospital to another, and thanks to our healthcare system where thousands of people die from treatable diseases every year, she hasn’t been able to get meaningful help.
She tells me of her most recent hospital visit, of them scheduling her to meet a doctor. And when she realised the doctor is a student, she walked away. One of the nurses then whispered to her to come the next day, as the real doctor would be around then. I don’t want to show pity, because Mum loves it, and I don’t think she needs to be pitied right now. I make a jest of the whole issue, causing her to laugh instead. This is the only way I can hide how I really feel inside. We spend the evening gossiping and laughing. Yes! I gossip with my mother.
Later that evening, my dad calls me to the sitting room. He asks me how I am doing and all, then suggests I go to the hospital with my mum the following day to sort myself out. I have my reservations about this, because I schooled here, and most of my friends are student doctors; I could run into any of them. But I don’t want to argue with Dad. I simply agree.
We leave early in the morning. When we get to the hospital, Mum and I go our separate ways. I get to the Family Medicine department, to the point where I am supposed to get a card, and I give the lady my reference letter from the previous hospital.
Lady: What is your problem?
Me: Please, read this.
I hand her the letter.
Lady: I’m not reading anything. Just tell me your problem so I know where to send you to.
I am shocked by her response. I wonder if she hasn’t heard of the word “confidentiality” before. I am already pissed, but I manage to remain polite.
Me: Madam, my problem is personal. Could you just read the letter?
The next person on the line tries to get around me, to talk to the lady through the small window, and I block her path.
Me: Madam, are you okay? I’m telling you I have a personal problem and you’re telling me to say my problem in the presence of everybody. Are you even qualified to ask me that? Because I’m sure you were employed with WAEC, and you’re opening your mouth to ask me to discuss my medical problem with you? Who are you? Geraldine Carson?
Lady: Oya, come and collect card, let me see you.
She turns to her colleague and starts speaking sneeringly in a language I don’t understand, pointing at me as she talks. Feeling further inflamed, I storm at her in English.
Me: Thunder fire you too, you and that your colleague. In fact, all of you in this department, starting from the HOD, for employing you. Your grandchildren will all be imbeciles too. Anything you talk there, back to sender in a thousand folds.
The other people on the line begin to murmur, that I am holding up the line. I whirl around to face them, my glare still intact, and rave for anyone with liver to come and push me out, adding that I am not going anywhere until I get my card, one way or the other.
Chaos starts building in the air.
Just then, a nurse walks up to me, and asks me to come with her. I refuse. She pleads with me and is polite about it. I follow her to a private spot in the room. She asks what the problem is. I explain to her. She apologizes and tells me the treatment I just got is the norm with those women, and that I wasn’t supposed to go there in the first place. Then, she directs me to where I should go. I thank her generously and leave.
But before I walk out of the room, I return to the lady’s window.
Me: God don save you today, fool at forty!
And I storm off to the clinic where I am supposed to go to. I meet some friends I know there. Then I meet another nurse who does a confirmatory test, to be sure I am positive. Thereafter, she refers me to the Special Clinic. I do my necessary registration, and my blood sample is taken for the purpose of other tests.
I am shocked when I see the people who have come to collect their drugs. They all look so able, not at all sickly. There isn’t a cute guy among them sha. The doctor I speak with asks me to come back on Tuesday for my test results and counseling.
I call Mum and ask her where she is. Then, I go over to meet her. As I approach the entrance of the ward, I overhear Mum’s voice berating someone.
Mum: So why didn’t you tell me the doctor wasn’t around, and I have been waiting here since morning, only for you to send me to a student doctor. Where is the form I filled and gave to you? So you didn’t even read it, eh? Because I indicated there that I don’t want a student doctor present during my examination, and you still sent me to the student doctor gon-gon. What is wrong with you?
Nurse: I’m sorry, ma. The doctor didn’t come today.
Mum: And you couldn’t tell me that because I don’t understand English?
Nurse: I’m sorry, ma.
Mum: Can I have the doctors’ number?
Nurse: Sorry ma, we are not allowed to give out his contact.
Mum: Sorry this, Sorry that… Everything with you is just Sorry!
Me: Mummy nah wetin?
Mum: Abeg let us leave this place.
I find myself laughing as we leave. At least now I know where I got my impatience and quick temper from.
We get home and I discuss my day with my sister. We all laugh and have fun over it, like every normal family.
It is morning, and I am still in bed. It is one of those mornings were you’re too lazy to leave the bed. I just lie there with my eyes closed, imagining my boyfriend is by my side. It is my sister’s tap on my leg that breaks my contact with wonderland.
Sister: Wake up! Mummy is calling you.
I ask where she is, and she tells me she is in the kitchen, as she has just come back from the market. I walk to the kitchen to meet her.
Mum: Ehen! You don wake?
Me: Na Sister wake me o.
Mum: Ok. Oya, take.
I look at Mum’s hand, at what she is holding out, and I freeze. Shock is etched on my face. It turns out that my perfect family isn’t so perfect after all.
Written by Bobby