Tales from the clinic

MIDNIGHT SUN

As Ikechi made her way to the park, clutching tightly to her traveling bag, she could feel the heat of the sun on her skin. She wasn’t new in Nigeria and had long acclimatized to the hot whether but the gravity with which the sun rained havoc on her this very afternoon was very unusual and unquantifiable. Maybe it had to do with her particular mood. She was so upset, angry and furious that any and every little misnomer aggravated her fury.

A glance from afar was all it took to pin point just how foul a mood she was in. The amount of pain in her heart was enough to cause it to bleed. If her heart was ripped open, one would be amazed at just how much blood will ooze out. Her heart bleed profusely, not from trauma but from heartbreak. From her long chased dream that had just been snatched away from her. What was she to do with her life now? The furry, the pain, the bottled anger, the hate… She felt like nothing but an embodiment of bitterness.

The drive home was a very quiet and surreptitious one. She refused to speak to anyone, trying so hard to control the anger that burned through her heart. At some point, she felt her heart was about to be ripped out of her chest. The pain was grueling. She felt the tears form but fought so hard to keep them at bay. The last thing she wanted was interviews from never caring, innocuous passers-by. She nursed her pain and curtailed her tears with every shred of energy left in her.

She was happy her mum wasn’t home when she arrived. It was still early mid day and school was yet to dismiss. Her mum was one of the senior teachers in Queens College Udokpu, a neighboring town from theirs where she shuttles to and fro in her lady’s motorcycle on a bid to discharge her duties.

Ikechi wasn’t surprised, she had intentionally planned her journey for an alone time before her mum arrived. She made straight to get some rest and relax her brain hoping to feel better afterwards.

She was shocked to see that it was already twilight as she stepped out of her room. She had spent the whole evening sleeping and her mum didn’t wake her up. She smiled when she recalled that she had just arrived home and must be on the usual preferential treatment her mum always gave her whenever she returned home after a long stay in school. Though an only child and her mother’s heartbeat, she had always felt her mother’s love concentrated on her but the difference was always clear whenever she came home from school.

Her mind quickly drifted to her father. He had died of some sickness she never knew the name when she was five. She could still recall how difficult it was for them to move on after his death. Her mum would always cry, day in, day out. She could still remember how she was forced to wise up and embrace life earlier than her mates. The events of that time had thought her to learn to work and take care of herself from the outset-a habit that has followed her ever since.

Seeing her mum was enough reason to break free from the strongholds of the past. She managed to put a smile on her face as she hugged her. They chatted long into the night and Ikechi was happier than she had expected. Her mum had been and would remain her best friend.

The following day was all it took for her to relapse. She knew she had to face her problems but she didn’t know how. Where was she to start from? With which mouth will she tell anyone that she never saw her period in her first twenty years of life and now that it had finally started coming, it has never stopped.

The first episode had taken a month and she disregarded it, linking it to the fact that it was just menarche. The second had taken three months, the third, 6months. Now, she wasn’t even sure how to or when to count anymore. She had lost count.

It has been just two years since menarche and she couldn’t remember the last time she dressed up without wearing a sanitary pad. The cost was building up on her, she was spending a lot. Almost the entire cash she could lay hands on went to the purchase of more and more sanitary pads. How long would she continue to live like that? How much longer would she take the discomfort? How much more of the associated pain could she bear?

She worked hard in school, channelling her every single effort into becoming one of the top models in Lagos while making sure her academics didn’t suffer. That, she was almost achieving before the dreaded, endless bleeding equivocably vandalized her plans. She had lots of contracts, lots of adverts and lots of travel plans already but no company wanted a model who couldn’t put on every attire they wanted her in.

No company wanted to sign a lady who couldn’t take some snap shots in the pool neither was there a single person who wanted to sign a model who, for some unknown reasons was almost always sick. Fresh complaints everyday. She was loosing a lot of blood but had no idea what to do. The entire event had made her almost run crazy. She had only waited to round up her second semester exams before heading home.

She was done with school, yes. She ought to be happy, yes. But the thought of how her endless toil to make it in the modelling industry had met its end never gave her a chance to actually breath, not to mention celebrate. She wasn’t sure where to start from or what to do.

She didn’t realize how long she had been sitted on a spot until her mum shook her by the shoulder. “What is it that got you so lost in thoughts?” She asked, concern on her face. Dropping her bag by her side, she sat on the floor, beside her daughter.

It took a bag full of convincing to get Ikechi to confide in her mum. She was in tears by the time she was done with the narration. Her mum was alerted. Apart from the woman with the issue of blood in the Bible, she had heard of a similar story but never thought she would see it happen in her own family. To her own daughter. She was fighting so hard to keep the already secreted tears from making their way down her cheeks. She had to be strong for her daughter. Crying will never solve the problem. Rather, it will break her daughter the more.

By the end of the week, they had visited the entire primary and secondary health care centers in both their town and the neighborhooring town, yet, no diagnosis had been made. Ikechi was getting more pale as days passed by. She was getting weaker and weaker and her mum could feel her slipping away. The news was soon all over the village and everyone was soon stigmatizing them. The belief was that Ikechi had brought in a deadly disease from the city and had come to the village with the intention of wiping out the entire village.

Even with the entire deterioration, her insomnia still heightened. She had never been able to sleep at night since her arrival to the village. The villagers kept ambushing their head until he adopted their plan to send Ikechi and her mother out of the village. Even though a shock, the duo embraced their fate with both hands when the village head paid deaf ears to their inceasant pleas and tears.

Ikechi and her mother had settled for a cheap room in Udokpu, close to her mother’s work place yet, very much away from home. Even though it wasn’t as comfortable as her father’s house in Umuabuo, her village, she was happy to be away from home.

Her mum had tried every single therapy she knew or heard about, ranging from fresh vegetables to vegetable water to haemanthinics to help replenish Ikechi’s continual blood loss. Even though she was beginning to notice a slight improvement, she was still worried about what the cause of the sudden problem could be.

Ikechi spent all her time in the house doing literarily nothing. She was gradually becoming stable but the bleeding had persisted. Amina, their neighbor’s daughter whom she had met two weeks back on her way from the kiosk opposite Amina’s house was fast becoming a close friend. They spent every spare time together. Amina had promised to talk to her friend, Dinma, who was in final year in Medical school and find out her take on the case.

Ikechi and her mum rushed to the teaching hospital in Ulasi, the moment Dinma asked them to come and see a specialist. Their visit to the hospital was in barges. Some to see the specialist, others to carry out and collect their test results.

As soon as the investigation results were ready, Ikechi and her mum rushed back to the specialist, not sure what to expect. The doctor, a Gynaecologist, after reviewing the results took his time to explain to them the disease entity, the possible causes, how it progresses and the possible complications.

“Its called Polycystic ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)” he told them. He had suspected it and the ultrasound scan of the pelvis has confirmed it. He went ahead to tell them that it had no particular cure and that the complications could range from but not limited to continuous anovulatory bleeds, as Ikechi was already experiencing to infections to infertility.

Even though having been through a lot lately, the thought of never having a child of her own left Ikechi speechless. The mixed feelings were too much for her to bear. Even though the doctor reassured her that there was still a possibility that she might have a child especially through assisted reproduction, she Still couldn’t stop the endless tears from flowing. Her whole life played in her head like a slide show and the tears poured out even the more.

A note from Dera

These things do happen. Cases like these are real. As medical professionals and even as regular homo sapiens, lets cultivate the habit of empathizing with patients and helping the sick get good medical care. Stigmatization helps neither the bereaved nor the unaffected!

Hope you enjoyed the story though 😍