…You know you want to
On the drive home from visiting a sick friend who was being treated at home, I started to wonder about the origin of the word ‘Hospital’. My conclusion- it has something to do with ’hospitality’. For me, this is a fantastic concept because it means that the original intent is that the members of staff at centres that go by this name will offer people medical care in a hospitable manner. I don’t care to carry out any research to see if my conclusion is true in reality because I would rather not find out otherwise.
My sick friend opted to have a doctor give her treatment at home rather than stay at the hospital. I parted my lips in a bid to start advising her to check into a hospital but she was quick to remind me of the episode that led to her ‘Nosocomephobia’- fear of hospitals.
Sometime ago, while we were still in the university, Nini got sick. She had a fever that was bouncing off the roof top and I got her some drugs from the local pharmacy. Her mum was on a trip outside the country so it was no use worrying her and she had no one else at home that she could call. On the third day, I finally persuaded her to go to the hospital. She was shivering like a leaf in the blistering storm and had lost a lot of weight in the space of just three days. My dear friend was a sorry sight.
I managed to get her scrawny frame into some decent clothes with the help of our two friends Shade and Sonia from next door. Sonia, the fashionista thought we should brush her terribly matted hair and put some balm on her chapped lips. I had no time for that. I was not about to waste another minute in getting Nini to the hospital. I was glad Sonia had a car though because transportation would have been a huge problem since it was already 9.45pm at the time.
Shade and I held Nini on either side as we helped her out of the hall of residence and Sonia led us to her waiting car, strutting like it was the Paris runway. I felt Nini shiver against me and Shade gave me a knowing look. The poor girl had barely said anything all day. That was extremely rare for her since she was usually the talkative one. Now, she was just a weaker and quieter version of my Niniola. I kept telling myself that everything would be fine once we got to the emergency entrance of the University hospital. Sure… Was I really?
We were at the hospital by 10.05pm and ‘shocked’ does not begin to describe the feeling that enveloped me when we got to the emergency hall. There were so many patients there, waiting with their families. We could not even get any first aid for our shivering friend. We walked her to the front desk in the hope that we would get speedy attention once the nurses saw her condition. I was in for a bigger shock. The nurse did not bat an eyelid when she told us to get out of her sight and wait our turn.
Disappointed, we returned to the back of the hall and managed to get Nini a place to sit. The hall cleared gradually and she finally had enough space to lie down after an hour. About another hour later, it was our turn.
Nini was tired of everyone tending to her hand and foot so she shivered to the front desk walking by herself and I followed closely. Shade and Sonia stayed back. They were tired, Sonia especially.
The over-weight nurse at the counter gave Nini a once-over and said:
“You this people again! Are you still here?” I could not tell if that was a question or just an expression of her surprise. Then she turned to the other nurse who seemed to be digging for something in the back room and muttered some pidgin English under her breadth:
“This one no sick well-well jare. Na cold dey catch am. Dem just wan disturb pesin for here”
She turned back towards us but kept her eyes on the register in front of her.
“We don’t take non-emergencies after 10pm. You should have come here earlier. Come back tomorrow morning.”
At that point, I wanted to drag her head over the counter and beat some compassion into it. I was quick to ask her if my friend needed to be bleeding or foaming at the mouth for her condition to be considered an emergency. My other companions heard the sudden change in the tone of my voice and soon, there were four young ladies at the counter, one with a high fever and three with high tempers.
The matter escalated when the nurses began restating their position in very harsh language. One of them said something about ‘home training’ to Sonia and girlfriend started to take off her ear rings in preparation for a cat fight. Nini was leaning over the counter, shaking more visibly that when she got off the bench she was lying on.
“You can pretend more than that if you want. We can’t attend to Common Cold at this time of the night”.
I guess that was the last straw Nini needed as she joined the shouting match. She screamed at them amidst tears, saying that she was sick and would not leave the counter until they called in a doctor to attend to her. She was obviously determined to disturb the general peace at the hospital until she got medical attention.
One of the doctors on call came out of his office and into the hallway, noticeably confused about the noise. He asked us what the matter was. Nini calmed down immediately she saw the doctor. He seemed nice and he only had to look at the nurses from the corner of his eyes for them to keep quiet.
Nini finally got the proper attention she needed though it took the last of her strength to scream that loud. We gave her a seat while the doctor checked her temperature and ordered the nurses to get her into the injection room. He kept talking to her in quiet tones and writing in his notepad. I chipped in as much information as I could.
The doctor wrote down a prescription to be administered on her by injection and gave it to the mean nurse. Nini was quick to say she didn’t want that particular nurse anywhere near her posterior. The doctor smiled and said “don’t worry; she’s not the one to administer the injection”. He was so cute. I can’t help smiling when I remember.
She had to be admitted for observation but the rest of us were asked to leave and check back on her the following morning. Nini’s eyes were glazed with tears when she heard that she would be sleeping there alone. I on the other hand was glad to be heading to my bed. It was 1am already. The rest of the story is what Nini told me when I took her breakfast and a change of clothes in the morning.
At about 5am, a nurse stood over Nini’s bed and tapped her lightly.
“Your temperature is too high. Get up and take a shower.”
Nini felt like the bed was spinning around and the nurse was the great big ogre making it spin. She could only mutter “Uhn” as she turned around, away from the light and the nurse stepped out of the room.
Half an hour later, the nurse was back again
“Didn’t I tell you to take a bath? Don’t faint here o! Your temperature is still rising.”
This time, she waited long enough to see Nini take off her denim pants and start to remove her t-shirt.
As soon as she left, Nini tried to ignore her spinning head and make for the narrow corridor linking her room and the next room to a shared bathroom. She must have gotten really light headed as she got to the corridor because the last thing she remembered before falling into uncertain blankness was feeling the cold hard floor against her left cheek.
Thankfully, she woke up from her ‘sleep’. It was bright outside and rays of light came in through the bathroom window. It must have been close to 2hours. Obviously, no one noticed that the patient in Room 4 was no longer in her bed and nobody had looked for her long enough to find her slumped in the tiny corridor.
She managed to drag herself off the floor and disentangle her arms from the partly removed t-shirt before removing the rest of her clothes. She then turned on the shower and sat in the bathtub as it poured over her. She was dressed and back in her bed just in time for the doctors’ ward round.
It didn’t seem like the hospital staffs were reasonably sure of what was wrong with her but they were ready to pump her with drugs all the same. No test was carried out on her and nobody had useful answers to her questions. As soon as she ate her breakfast, changed her clothes and used the drugs the nurse brought, Nini decided that she wanted to leave and she wasn’t going to ask for their permission. I definitely had no plans of stopping her.
Of course she was better than she was the night before but I agreed with her that she didn’t need to be in a place where no one would know if she up and died in the middle of the night. She needed to be in a place where there would be someone to ‘care for’ her and ‘look after’ her. With that said, I stuck my head out into the door way and when the coast was clear, I packed up her things and we made for the entrance with straight faces.
Nobody stopped us. Nobody asked any questions but just as we turned at the last bend to the main entrance, I bumped face first into the cute doctor from the night before. Gosh! He still had that cute look on. His cuteness didn’t cut it though. I had to get my friend out of there before he stopped being cute long enough to ask us why we were ‘running away’. Less than 5 minutes later, we were in a cab and off we went to our friendly neighbourhood pharmacy. I totally felt like I had just auditioned for Prison Break.
The pharmacy gave her some drugs and she was well within a week, thank God. None of us ever used that particular hospital again.
That was one nasty hospital experience but things don’t always go that way at hospitals. Some people have it good. My friend, Kike had her baby at a really nice hospital. She said she felt like she was at a spa because the nurses were so sweet and they were always popping in to check up on her. The doctors were nice and friendly too. The hospitality was top notch but the bill did put a lot of stagger in her husband’s step. Now, I’m wondering why such a steep price should be placed on basic hospitality at a hospital…not fair.
I’m not scared of hospitals or nurses but I sure do wish more nurses were kind and friendly; and hospitals, cooler altogether both to the rich and the less than rich. It’s good for business and it sure is good for the patients.
Do share your own hospital-ity experiences