Tales from the clinic


 Little Jeff was having a good time playing around his compound  with his fellow kids. They had been running around, turning the entire sitting room upside down and Jeff’s mother, Mrs Halima couldn’t bear it anymore. It was the third time she was re arranging the sitting room that day and she had no plans of doing it the fourth time. “Will you all go outside!”, She shouted, about to loose her mind. “But mummy, we are just playing” little Jeff said innocently. “Do I look blind to you? I can definitely see that, now go outside this moment, all of you.” She yelled and the tiny children scurried off, scared.

Just a few minutes of play outside the house, a few minutes of peace of mind for Mrs Halima and she could already hear screams. At first, she thought it was part of the play but the noise excarlated almost immediately. She could hear her son screaming and the other kids laughing but she couldn’t make out what little Jeff was saying. She took few steps towards the door, paying closer attention to know if she could hear them clearly, yet nothing. It was after she stepped out of the door that she got a glimpse of what was going on: little Jeff was bent at one corner of the compound and the other kids surrounded him.

She was now running to the scene. Though still unsure what the entire drama was about, one thing was sure: the sight wasn’t pleasant to behold. “What happened?” She asked, looking from one child to the other yet, no answer. The kids had suddenly stopped laughing but not little Jeff. His trouser was nowhere in sight. Meanwhile, he clung tightly unto his shirt as though preventing it from getting contaminated. A reasonable amount of blood was already on the floor and more still found their way down from little Jeff’s anus. “Mummy, it’s coming out!” Little Jeff kept screaming. Mrs Halima was confused…the shock still yet to clear from her face. She hadn’t seen anything like that before.  When she finally found her voice again, she yelled at the other kids:”What did you do to my son?”. The kids were now scared, they took few steps back, terrified. None was able to say anything. “I asked you a question, what have you naughty children done to my son?”she screamed further and made to beat the oldest of the children when Jeff’s scream shifted her focus back to him…”mummy, it’s coming out!” He was now crying.

For a while Mrs Halima stood transfixed at a point, starring at her son, yet unable to do anything. She was scared herself. She could see the balloon-like bulge at his anus. It was the source of the entire bleed. The most terrifying was the fact that the blood just wouldn’t stop coming… The other children had disappeared one after the other, each child to his own house. The situation they initially termed hilarious had suddenly become serious and their friend’s mother wasn’t finding it funny. No kid wanted to give Mrs Halima a reason to give him or her a beating that evening. One of the children, Kate, their neighbor’s daughter narrated everything to her mother the moment she got home and her mum immediately rushed to little Jeff’s house. The moment she saw the protrusion, she advised Jeff’s mother to rush to one Mr Nduka, a patent medicine dealer(popularly called “Dr.”), “He will take care of everything” she assured her.

As Jeff cried his eyes out, Mr Nduka pushed the balloon like bulge back into the anus and Mrs Halima started to rejoice. “Thank God for good people like Kate’s mother” she said to herself. “That’s all, you are free to go” Mr Nduka said. A glance at the abrupt change in Mrs Halima’s countenance and Mr Nduka was forced to explain more. “You don’t need to worry, he will be fine, it won’t happen to him again” he assured her. Mrs Halima smiled, fumbled out some naira notes from her purse and handed them over to the “Dr”.

Just about 6am the next morning, the shred scream of little Jeff woke Mrs Halima from sleep. “Mummy, it’s coming out!” He screamed. “What again!” Mrs Halima was upset but little Jeff simply maintained his position, squatted over the little bowl he makes use of whenever he wanted to ease himself at night. He patiently waited for his mum to come and solve the problem. Mrs Halima’s husband died the very month little Jeff was born, making her the only living relative little Jeff has.

The sight of Mrs Halima infront of the chemist shop was the first thing Mr Nduka beheld when he approached his shop that morning. It was one of the things he hated in the business: being proven wrong whenever he manages a case he has little or no knowledge about while falsely assuring the patient that he/she will be fine. As he walked towards Mrs Halima, he thought of what to tell her to make her believe that he gave the right treatment. Mrs Halima was obviously boiling and the last thing he wanted that morning was an angry woman designing his cloth. His encounter with Mama Anulika, one of the Igbo women in their neighbourhood was still fresh in his memory. He had given a wrong prescription that almost cost the life of the little Anulika and her mum came to his shop the following day to fight him. While trying to free himself from her strong grips, his shirt was torn. It was an incident he never forgot.

“Good morning Mrs Halima, to what do I owe this early morning visit?” He asked, flashing her a smile. Without saying a word, Mrs Halima simply pulled down little Jeff’s trousers and with his back facing the chemist pointed at the balloon-like bulge that had reoccurred. The chemist was quick to provide an explanation: I have never seen this type of thing before o. This your son must be an “ogbanje”(possessed) the other patients that I have treated with similar ellment got better after I pushed it back in; I don’t understand why his own is different. Please, take him out of my shop before he chases out my other patients. I don’t want more patients having a resistance to the treatment I give them o. Mrs Halima without saying anymore word took her son home, blood still dripping from the protrusion.

Everyone around, the church members inclusive, stigmatised Mrs Halima and her son, her only child. The few igbos around believed the boy was an “ogbanje” while the Hausas believed he was possessed. The Muslims infact belived that Allah was purnishing the family for leaving the Islamic religion for Christianity. Even their neighbor’s, including mama Kate stopped their children from playing with little Jeff nor even visiting Mrs Halima’s house.

As Mrs Halima strolled down the street a few weeks later on her way to meet a pastor whom she believed was her only hope at Jeff ever becoming better, she ran into a young lady, Corper Udoka, who happened to be a medical Doctor and was serving at the town’s teaching hospital. The mere sight of little Jeff and the obvious fresh blood stained trouser he was wearing made her offer to help.

After a little convincing, Mrs Halima agreed to go to the hospital with her. Dr Henry, the doctor she worked with got pissed the moment he saw the state little Jeff was in…the poor hygiene was irritating. Brownish black patches all over. Dr Udoka couldn’t understand how a mother could let her sick child get that dirty…it didn’t look like the anus has seen water in weeks…the thick stench filled the entire room.

Dr Henry soon burst: why haven’t you brought him here since you noticed this protrusion? He was looking at Mrs Halima sternly while Dr Udoka was signalling him with her eyes to let the woman be. She knew how difficult it was for her to find the right words with which she convinced the woman to follow her to the hospital. The last thing she wanted to do was say or do anything that might make the woman change her mind. The little boy has suffered enough, she wouldn’t let him continue in that agony. She knew how ignorant the woman was and how she was among the few Hausa women who didn’t like to take their sick children to the hospital.

The metron commenced work, meticulously cleaning the entire anal area. Dr Udoka on the other hand managed to get the history of how and when they first noticed the protrusion and what they had done at the time while Dr. Henry did a quick exam on the boy. The moment he was done, he exhaled deeply, calmed  himself down and began to explain to Mrs Halima their findings. While on that, he make sure not to mention the part were little Jeff wasn’t properly cared for. The mother ought to have noticed the protrusion months before she did. Again, he made sure not to mention that to her.

Your son has something we call “haemorrhoid”. People generally call it “pile”. You see, the protrusion comes in stages. It has IV stages and your son’s own is stage III. At stage I, one might not notice it, especially in a 5year old like your son. At stage II, it is noticeable. Bulges out whenever the patient wants to pass stool but again goes back in by itself. At stage III, it bulges out but can only go back in when pushed back. As you can see, my colleague, Dr Udoka just pushed it back in. You don’t need to be scared. Whenever it comes out, all you need do is push it back in.

At this stage, we will give you some advise concerning his feeding from now, give you some drugs to stabilize him among other things we will like you to do while we wait and see if and when we will do a surgery on him to completely take care of the issue. For now, we need to in addition to all I have said transfuse him. He has lost a lot of blood, you can testify to that. I noticed he is very pale so we will have to do the crossmatching and transfusion as soon as possible…very important.

A month later, little Jeff had received the treatment, the surgery inclusive. He was recovering very well. One could hardly tell that he was ever sick. He had even resumed playing with his friends. It was a testimony that re-wrote the orientation of the villagers with regards to Hospitals and more patients began to seek for health care whenever the need arises.