Christmas is here again! The melodies of carols, the beautiful lightings dotting the streets, the banging of the fireworks, the exchange of pleasantries that usually characterize the milieu are reminders of the birth of Jesus. Even as all these festive traditions bring cheer to many, there are lots of people for different reasons found themselves in hospitals, prisons and other places of confinement and have to be there during this festive period.
For some, this is a time of the year which brings pain and sadness. For some, it is a time when the pain of loneliness, broken arm or leg, terminal ailment, or despair of ill health is amplified andÂ highlighted. For some the celebrations are bitter sweet as they struggle with the harsh realities of Christmas on sick bed and far away from their homes grappling with their new lifestyles and the inability to celebrate these holidays in the fashion they are accustomed to.
These people are not only uncomfortable but are also oblivious of the celebration of Christmas. Saturday Vanguard visited some hospitals and charity homes to feel the pulse of those who are bogged down by different types of ailment and had to spend the last Christmas on sick bed. Many of them reeled out their experiences at theÂ festive period.
Despite under their painful condition in which, they celebrate, some still wear hard smiles in the attempt to push down the pain and feel the celebration.Â Some however, could not muster the courage of that camouflage, but fight back tears as it rolled down their cheeks while narrating their stories as put together by Ishola Balogun.
â€œI donâ€™t wish my enemy what I passed throughâ€
At the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi, Lagos, a young man, Adesanya Adebisi, who is looking forward to mark his 45th birthday come December 27, 2009 in the hospital could not fight back tears as he recounted how he lost his right arm.
â€œI found myself here as a result of Industrial accident.Â As a Printer, on the 15th of Oct, I was operating a Guillotine (a paper cutting machine), while I was trying to adjust the paper already packed in the machine, the blade of the machine which is only prompted by depressing the on-button, came down on its own while my hand was in the machine, and that was all that saw me to my present condition.â€
Adebisi who hails from Ogun state, said although his friends have really stood by him giving him all the encouragements to muster the courage to move on with life inspite of his situation but complained that his dreams and whole life have been altered by this accident, he would after leaving the hospital learn how to cope with one arm.â€
To me Christmas is nothing and I donâ€™t even remember it is Christmas.Â Â I donâ€™t wish my enemy what I passed through.
â€œI camouflage my pain with hard smilesâ€
Ezekiel A. Chikube was a victim of Okada accident at the National Orthopaedic hospital.Â He has been in the hospital for three months with the likelihood that he would spend another few months there before he is let go. He had a severe fracture on his left leg through an accident which occurred in August.Â He had employed the services of a native doctor with the expectation that he would be able to walk again in few months time. Alas!, the situation deteriorated and marked his journey to the Orthopeadic hospital.
â€œThis would be my first Christmas here and as a Christian, I still have every reason to thank God, for sparing my life.â€ he said. Trying to make comparison, Ezekiel said the last Muslim festival was more or less not different from any other day of the year and Christmas to him as long as it is celebrated in the hospital environment, is no different.
â€œAlthough, the doctors, nurses and other health workers were very nice including the spiritual support of some clergies, it is not different from other days. Besides, everybody will always want to celebrate with his family and loved ones, but when you look back, you are still better than some who did not have the grace to see the light of the day.
I think the best thing to do in this situation is to wear a new look and submerge yourself with the feeling of celebration. It may be very difficult especially when you remember how you have been celebrating the previous Christmas with your family and loved ones, but then since you cannot control the situation, you donâ€™t have to make it worse. I suppress my pain with colorful wrappings and special smiles.
I try to wear a smile and push the pain down in an effort to spare my family members who come to visit me and friends the agony of being in the hospital while celebrating. It also saves me from the impact of the pain I feel.â€ he said.
â€œNo Christmas, My situation is getting out of handsâ€
Olayemi Kasali is a young girl whose traumatic experience is currently overwhelming her and her single parent mother, Mrs. Kasali.Â Olayemi, 17, who cried to this reporter for help said she is on the verge of being paralyzed. Her ordeal started in May 2009 when preparing for her NECO examination. She was diagnosed with fever and was so treated.
Shortly after the treatment, she noticed she could not walk properly and went back to the hospital and since then, she has been on the sick bed, unable to walk.Â According to her mother, several medical tests have been carried out and nothing seems to have manifested.Â She stated that after about seven months at the General Hospital, she was discharged and referred to National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi, Lagos.
â€œThey have discharged us since 7th of December, but we are unable to pay the bill and go for the referral at Igbobi.â€Â I have only struggled to gather only N8,000 through the hard labour at Mile 12 Market, Lagos and at the moment weâ€™re still looking for more.â€ she said.
The middle aged widow who said herÂ husband died a couple of years ago appealed to good spirited Nigerians for assistance to see her daughter through from her mysterious ailment. The widow in a tear-laden voice said to them, there is nothing like Christmas or any celebration since after the death of her husband. â€œThere have been one trial or the other since the death of my husband and for this year Olayemiâ€™s case has only taken our woes to another level.â€ she cried. My joy now is to see my daughter walk again. To reach Kasali 08083732661.
â€˜Iâ€™ll praise God for sparing my lifeâ€™
His circumstance could be one of the reasons he radiates joy, and glowing in praises for sparing his life.Â It was at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, Idi-Araba, where he laid supine on his sick bed,Â whistling and thanking God.
He is fast recuperating and apparently waiting for his discharge from the hospital. Temidire Joshua, 45, was involved in an accident which claimed the lives of three others in a car accident which occurred someÂ months ago along Ibafo end of Lagos-Ibadan express way. His mood was instructive, he could have been one of the three that died.
Joshua told this reporter that it is a packaged favour from God that he is alive and will forever rejoice in it. â€œYou see after the accident, I was told I remained unconscious for five days.Â People thought I had died and when you consider the other three who died instantly, lots of people never gave me that chance. But I thank God and the medical experts here.
They did a great job. This is my sixth month here and Iâ€™m happy Iâ€™ll soon leave, hopefully to celebrate the festive period with my family.
It is only those who have died that have missed the opportunity of enjoying a better time. I see hope, I see better times, all this pain and anguish will be a thing of the past, but for the dead ones, there is no remedy.Â So Iâ€™ll celebrate the Christmas whether here or at home, Iâ€™ll praise God for sparing my life and rejoice. I wont be deterred by the hospital environment.Â No matter your condition, once there is life and at a time like this, it is worth celebrating,â€ he said.
I also think that when friends areÂ there for you, and aware of the pain the other person may be going through,Â cheering them could also go a long way to assuaging their plight.Â These are what friends, agencies, clergies having been coming to do with many gifts items.â€
Even as some seems to be exasperated by the pain they undergo at different hospitals during this yuletide, what will certainly reduce the worry and pain, is to consciously submerge oneself in the feeling of celebration, and get more involve in the celebration and feel happier.Â The extra smiles we put on the faces of those who may not feel so joyful may make the season festive to them.Â Have a pleasant Christmas.