By Treena Kwenta
Hi Readers! I know this may sound a bit silly, but the hospital is a pretty dreary place to spend the night in. All I’ve done so far in my life with regards to the hospital, is go pay a patient a visit. I breeze in with chocolates, fruits, magazine/newspapers, provision, etc., flash dazzling smiles which hopefully are expected to liven up the atmosphere and make the patient feel a lot better, sit around a bit, bid him/her ‘goodbye’ and then leg it back home; satisfied that I had accomplished my mission of doing a good deed.
I’ve never really considered or been exposed to the nitty gritty atmosphere of a stay in the hospital. Dad’s stay made a lasting impression on me, in terms of the patients and their carers. I doff my hat to all those hospital workers everywhere in the universe who work tirelessly day and night to look after the sick. Theirs is no easy job at all, whatever their task there.
The mere fact that that’s where you earn your livelihood, seeing sick people in their diverse conditions, makes you a hero! As for the sick, especially those who are in-patients and who have to live at the hospital, my heart goes out to them. It’s a brave thing to do; not that they have a choice in the matter. I now see that going to have a baby at a hospital is a honeymoon, compared with other conditions that take people there.
I offered to take my mum’s place in dad’s hospital room so that she could go rest at home, not because I wanted to play the knight-in-shining-amour, but because as the first daughter in the family, it fell on me to do so.
While Tayo was with me, after my siblings and all the others had accompanied my mum home, my task seemed easy, especially when Tayo snapped out of her little depression about her not being able to see her dad conscious before he passed on, and we began to chat cosily about anything that came into our heads. A doctor had told us that it would help my dad’s recovery if we behave normal around him, and carried on conversations.
Tayo brought up Edmund’s matter, and we marveled again how an Onitsha man can fall prey to a con woman. Tayo brought out her IPAD2 and began to show me various photos on the matter. The flat in question, the surroundings, the girl Edmund fell for and her supposed brother.
“She’s beautiful,” I said of the lady. “No wonder Edmund fell for her. How old is she? In her twenties?”
“No, in her mid-forties, I think. Yes, she’s pretty. She’s very well kept. She’s never been married but she had two kids for a married man while she was a teenager. Both are girls and are married with children. She told Edmund she’s 28, and he believed her. Her passport said differently.”
“Did you see her passport?”
“Yeah! While moving her things out of the apartment. I had the generosity of showing it to Edmund. He looked stricken. Anyway, thank God we have that nightmare behind us and the apartment is intact.”
As we were talking, I noticed that my dad’s movement increased to the extent that he was trying to sit up. Tayo and I rushed to him and helped prop him up on the bed. He smiled his gratitude and moved his lips silently. I asked him if I should call the nurse, but he shook his head and pointed to a small equipment in a corner of the room.
Oh! CCTV! So, his room was under surveillance! Within a minute two nurses appeared and began to attend to him. He mumbled to them and they nodded. He was talking! Hurrah! Just as Tayo and I were rejoicing about this, Coco came to take Tayo home. She had brought me a flask of food and an overnight bag from Dicta. After she and Tayo left, the nurses told me I could only eat my food in the outer room., not in dad’s room. The gloom in the outer room made me lose my appetite. I pecked at the food a bit, and drank lots of iced water.
After dad had been fed his liquid food, the nurses left. He dozed off at about 11 pm. I watched the silent television a bit and then changed into my night things. I lay down on the bed opposite my dad’s, but I couldn’t sleep. It was as if I was afraid that something would happen to him while I slept. I was on edge and very nervous.
I brought out my rosary and began to pray. This calmed me a bit, but I jumped at every noise as the night wore on. I could see stretchers wheeled past from time to time during the night – maybe only twice actually, but it seemed much more than that because I was so terrified that it had to do with dead bodies!. I asked a nurse who came to attend to dad at about 3 am.. She smiled solemnly, but neither confirmed nor denied my fears. That heightened my anxiety and every shadow seemed a ghost to me.
By morning I was a wreck, but I hid it well when the others came. Before they came Seb rang me to find out how things were.
“Treena darling, how did the night go?” he asked solicitously.
“Oh, thank you, Seb dear. It was fine. Just fine,” I lied. Well, it wasn’t totally a lie. It was fine for dad. He had slept soundly and as I was taking Seb’s call, two nurses were helping him place his feet on the ground so that he could start standing up. Seb was delighted to hear this, but still wanted to know how the night had been with me.
I repeated that it was fine.
“That’s not what I was told by the nurses,” he said firmly. “The night couldn’t have gone fine with you if you were terrified that every stretcher that was wheeled past in the corridor had a corpse in it. You didn’t sleep. You had a very bad night. This shouldn’t be repeated otherwise you would become the crisis. That would worsen papa’s condition. I wanted to tell Joe that someone else should take your place in the hospital tonight, but I needed to seek your approval first.”
Tears sprang to my eyes at Seb’s concern for my well-being. I thanked him, but told him not to ask that someone replace me in dad’s room. I’ll weather it through, I assured him.
“The second night will be considerably easier,” I told him. “Besides, if I’m not here, it’s only Dicta that can be the other choice and it wouldn’t do that big sister chickened out of the task and baby sister had to take her place. This might even make mum want to return here, and she does need her rest.”
“No, mama can’t come back there. Haven’t they told you? She’s so worn out that a doctor was called in to attend to her last night. She’s okay now, but she needs to really rest. Going back to papa’s room is totally out of the question for her. Aunt Adeline too had to be attended to by the doctor too.”
“Oh my God! Papa must not hear all this. It would make his condition worse as he would begin to feel guilty. Enough of my matter, Seb. How are you today? How did the exploration around the heart go? What did the doctor say”
”Well, the results were inconclusive, and they couldn’t find anything to correct there. All the same, I’ve been placed on further medication. A review will come up in six months’ time. I’ll be discharged from here in the afternoon, but I intend to stay back in England for another two months. Just to be on the safe side. Milwan and Heather insisted on this. Left to them, I should stay on here until the next appointment.”
“That’s a good idea, Seb dear. Why don’t you do just that? What does Belinda say?”
“Oh, she doesn’t mind. It will give her time to see more of Simon and his family. I wouldn’t have minded myself, but the cold is so terrible this year. I would hate to stay cooped up inside the house until Spring comes. That’s no life. Anyway, I’ll see how it goes. I’ll review the matter after the first two months. See, Treena dear, look after yourself well. Shouldn’t Tayo come spend the night with you there?”
“Oh no! Thank you so much, Seb dear, but I think I can manage better from now on. By the way, how come the nurses here told you about the sort of night I had? Do you know any of them?”
“I don’t, but Coco knows several of them. Don’t forget that her first husband was a Ghanaian for whom she had three children, including the first one who’s helping to run our company in Accra. Coco knows people in Accra. Okay, ciao darling. Belinda says to say ‘hi’ to you.”
“Say ‘hi’ to her from me too. Hey, so, she has been in the room with you all this while? That means she’s aware that I had spent a sleepless night down here frightened of ghosts? I’ll never live that one down. She’s going to tell the whole world.”
“No. No. That won’t happen.”
It was with a light heart that I went back to join my dad in his room. Shortly after, my siblings and our cousins began to stream in. Much fuss was made over me for the care I was taking of our dad. I lapped it all up, even though I hadn’t actually done anything spectacular to ease his condition. I didn’t feel the need to tell them that I had been scared out of my wits in the night.
That afternoon, the doctors decided that dad should be discharged to go recuperate at home. The x-ray had shown that he hadn’t hit his head and there was no internal damage anywhere. It was the shock of the fall that had made him unconscious. That and Seb’s clean bill of health made my day. Thank God! We live to fight another day, don’t we?