Thursday 16th July, 2009.
I had reported to 68 NARH, Yaba, as usual for my every-other-week-lying-in-bed-ceremony. Being 37 weeks pregnant, for the first time as a sickle cell patient was all but a pleasurable experience. From week one of my pregnancy and the hospital became my extended family, from the ER to surgery to O.B.G.Y.N to hematology. So far, I had survived every attack sickle cell had to offer, from the lowest blood level (Packed Cell Volume) 7%, to the deadliest of pains in every blood flowing organ, to transfusion of over 30 pints of blood. You haven’t read the worst part; I couldn’t have sex with my husband (whom I call Imam). It hurt really badly, but you know what, I showed sickle cell who is BOSS!!! Yes, I demanded my right! So, anyway, not going into details, being boss doesn’t mean you are always right in your decision. It can backfire in lots of funny ways……
By 1100 Hrs, Nigerian time, I was having the feeling that my baby’s head was going to drop my cervix; it was the heaviest feeling ever. Panic stricken, Imam called my doctor telling him what I was feeling exactly how I was managing to cry the words out. Finally, the doctor just advised him to take me to the MRS for immediate attention then we move to the hospital. The distance from Ojo to Yaba in Lagos, Nigeria is no joke, not considering it being a working day; heavy traffic. So we went to the MRS first, the matron injected me, paracetamol and novalgin, if I can recall properly and she gave me some pink drugs don’t even recall the name (my doctor friend says it’s salbutamol, used to treat premature contractions). That drug made me experience how it is to have Parkinson’s disease. I was shaking involuntarily, even my squeaky voice was shaky; Imam performed a real miracle, we got to Yaba in less than the normal time, LOL!
Well, on getting there, of course my folder was never returned to the filing room, that would just be a waste of everything! I was quickly seen by my consulting obstetrician. After all the touching and looking, he prescribed a scan. I had a 3D scan, saw my daughter; she was the cutest fetus ever, with her head resting on her tiny hands as if she was thinking (I’m smiling just remembering it). The doctor kept asking if we were sure I was in my 37th week, and we kept on saying yes. By and by, he typed out the result and wished us well. On returning to the hospital, oh yeh, I forgot to mention, we went for the scan outside the reference hospital. Anyways, by the time we got back, I wanted to sleep, I was tired. So, Imam took the result to the doctor and I went to my bed I was just thinking of the roasted corn and coconut that I had to leave in a hurry *wink*.
The look on his face when he returned made me drop the coconut with utmost speed. He just said to me “You have IUGR (intrauterine growth restriction); the baby is showing 29 weeks”. Then he came near me smiled and said “toh, the surgery is tomorrow”. I had general body crises, I had to be sure he said what I thought I heard, so I asked “Tomorrow? Tomorrow, Friday?” he said “Yes. Tomorrow, Friday. I have to go and arrange for three pints of blood for you.” “Okay, Allah bada sa’a” was all I could say to him. The nurses on duty all came trying to cheer me up and make me laugh. Telling me not to worry, I had the best obstetrician/surgeon and I would be just fine. I finally smiled, it’s hard not to when people have taken the pain to make sure you do! I calmed myself; the worst that could happen was death! I guess I’m ready, but what of my girl? I change my mind Ya Allah, I am not ready, but I put my trust in YOU. These were among the thoughts going through my head. Corn and coconut forgotten.
I was to have my hair neatly styled, all jewelries removed, pubic region cleaned, and no meals or drinks after 2000hrs. I just smiled, not eating was not going to be a problem, my appetite had gone with the news. But much later that night, I wanted to eat amala and ewedu. I settled for rice o my people, woman must eat, had to keep my strength. Night came too quickly and visiting hours was over, men weren’t allowed to stay overnight (they made exceptions for me because I was a regular). Did I sleep? Was I awake? I have no idea, but morning came quickly.
Friday 17 July, 2009.
It’s all over; time to profess my undying love and what I want to be done to my girl if anything went wrong in the OR. But Imam wouldn’t hear of any “faithless talks” “Toh, oga sir, but I’m scared” I told him, and he replied smiling warmly, “I know, I’m also apprehensive, just keep reciting ayatul Kursiyu for as long as you are awake” and he kissed my fore head. After that, we were just silent, I was to go in by 0900hrs but another lady had some complications so I was asked to wait a little while. She finally came out and it was my turn to go in. Imam had agreed with the surgeon that he would go in with me, love-wan-tin-tin, but just as we were going in, he gave a terrifying sneeze!!! No, OMG!!! (He was banned from going in for risk of contamination) I was so sad, I nearly cried, but it was all for the best. He gave me a last pregnancy hug saying, “Allah ma’aki” meaning, may Allah be with you. So I walked with one of the theatre persons into the OR, laid on the OT. The female doctors were teasing me as a catheter was being fixed and cannulas were being set, then the anesthetician injected me with a series of pain killers supposed to make me drowsy, but I had immunity by then, I was chatting away merrily, and he was really surprised. He just shook his head and brought out the gas mask asking me something of which I have no idea……..
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