It’s Yuletide, but these patients won’t be spending it at home
By Tessy Igomu
Today is Christmas and everywhere is gripped by festive momentum. But in the midst of the dining and wining that goes with the day, there are people, whose faces can hardly wear a cheer even though it’s a day of celebration. To these set of people who are either enveloped in gloom, are sick or confined to a place where their contacts with the world are highly restricted, Christmas means nothing. To them, there is nothing merry about Christmas and only a miracle can assuage their aching hearts or feelings of despondency. These ones, especially those in the hospitals, would readily trade anything in the world to also be enveloped by the frenzy and fervour of the season, if fate allows.
In the Female Ward of the General Hospital, Gbagada sits 28-year-old Margaret Johnson Eny, who has just delivered a baby. As she speaks with the reporter, she earnestly yearns to hold her new born baby. At the moment, she is unsure of the fate of the child she gave birth to in a private hospital before being rushed to Ikorodu General Hospital and later Gbagada General Hospital for Anaemia-Secondary to post partum haemorrhage. For this housewife that still has intravenous lines sticking through her veins, the only Christmas gift she wants, is to cuddle her new born child and have him suckle.
Overwhelmed by a deep sense of despair, while still yet to recover from the pains and scars of Caesarean Section, Margaret, describes this year’s Christmas celebration as the saddest in her life. She stresses that never in her wildest imagination has she seen herself spending any Christmas Day infirmed on a hospital bed. For her, the frenzy and fervour of the season seems far from reality.
Recounting her journey to the hospital, Margaret recalls undergoing prolonged labour that put both she and her baby in distress in a private hospital. The mother of one says she was rushed in an unconscious state to Ikorodu General Hospital, where she was delivered of her child and later referred to Gbagada General Hospital.
“I don’t know if my child is alive. We were separated at birth. I wish to be home with my baby and two-year-old son, Bright. Really feel like staying with my family, even if there is no money. Right now, my son is being taken care of by neighbours. I pray to come out of here safely,” she says with tears cascading down her cheeks.
Also sitting on her bed, a stone’s throw away from Margaret and joyfully reciting her Holy Quran, is Adenike Nosiru. The native of Ogun State was knocked down from behind on her way to her business place by a reckless commercial driver at Agric Bus Stop, Ikorodu. Having been in the hospital for a month and half and making impressive improvement, she sees herself spending the Christmas and possibly New Year celebrations in the hospital as a blessing. With enthusiasm, she also looks forward to the New Year, with high hopes it has better tidings for her.
“It’s God’s will that I remain here. For me, every disappointment is a blessing. In all condition, we should learn to give thanks. My only prayer at this time is for God to be with me and my family as well as protect us all evil,” she said.
For the mother of five, despite not being a Christian, Christmas had always been a significant period. And her advice to those who would be all out to celebrate is not to overindulge in alcohol and to also be extra careful while behind the wheel.
In the Male Ward, Lawal Ismail also sits on his bed with his thickly bandaged leg propped up on a pillow and piles of newspapers. The former clearing and forwarding agent turned hotelier from Abeokuta, Ogun State, found himself in the hospital after an injury he sustained became infected and festered into a nauseous wound. Being a diabetic patient, he was almost demobilized by the wound but was saved by his timely decision to check into the hospital.
For him too, Christmas holds so much meaning, but feels rather saddened that he has to spend it in the Hospital.
“There’s nothing I can do about being here,” he says, with a smile briefly flashing on his face. “What if I was dead, won’t the celebration continue? So, I have told my children to go ahead and enjoy themselves. My only wish at this time is for God to heal me completely; he is the ultimate healer.”
Anthony Arinze, a native of Ukpor in Nnewi South is being treated for high blood pressure that almost condemned his kidney. Having been in Gbagada General Hospital for two months and undergoing series of dialysis therapies, he admits improving significantly. Though still looking frail and not sure of when he would be discharged, he is grateful to God to be alive to see another Christmas.
For this businessman, everyday is Christmas, depending on anyone’s perspective of the day. He strongly believes individuals should find joy in their everyday living. Arinze notes that since his Christmas would be spent in the hospital, he would make it worthwhile by chatting with his fellow hospital mates as well as make the best of the day by receiving friends and family members that comes around.
“I am not the only one here and I am not the only person that is in this type of condition. The truth is that the mortuary, prison yard and hospitals don’t close on Christmas day. So, we should try to keep our hands clean and work closely with God,” he says.
Christopher Diei is a cleric with a thriving ministry in the Lekki-Ajah area of Lagos. His journey to the hospital started with a home accident that left him bleeding profusely from the nose and constantly vomiting blood. Talking to the reporter is quite an uphill task, as every effort made to speak drained him of strength. The mere mention of taking a walk within the ward also sounds like a nightmare.
Recalling how he found himself in the hospital, he says: “It all started one night when I stood up to urinate. I just fell face down on the floor and since then, I have been losing blood. I have received several pints of blood and I’m still going to take more. The problem is getting those willing to donate blood for my transfusion. The way it is now, I can barely stand for two minutes. But I thank God I have improved tremendously.”
Pointing to a pack of ice blocks in a tray by his bedside, which he explained helps to stop the flow of blood, the bespectacled man from Uselle-Ukwu, Delta State, says he feels extremely sad to spend his Christmas in the hospital. According to him, the day had for years been his family’s traditional day of reunion, adding that he usually looks forward to hosting friends from home and abroad. For this man of God, his only Christmas wish is for God to restore his health.
“Sincerely, this is not my home and doesn’t look like home to me. Today, what do I wish for other than to be in good health,” he says while trying to catch his breath.
His only pain stems from the fact that most Christians don’t understand the true essence of Christmas, noting that it goes beyond being merry, wining and dining.
“We must not forget Jesus is the reason for the season. The day calls for sober reflection and a time to tell the world the saviour has come and finished the work of salvation. For us as Christians, it’s a time to look inwards. We have the entrance of Christ into the life of man. If he had not come, what would have been the fate of man?”
While speaking on efforts made by the hospital management to ensure that its patients have a sense of belonging, the Apex Nurse, Abosede Oluwabuyide, explains that the hospital management together with the Lagos State government through the Health Service Commission, have made good plans to put smiles on the faces of patients who through no fault of theirs have found themselves confined within the walls of the hospital.
She disclosed that the nursing department would be readily available to give qualitative care and go the extra mile to initiate therapeutic rapport with patients to get them out of depressive mood.
“On such a day, some of them behave irritably and are aggressive but we try to be patient with them. On Christmas day, meals are made extra special and the wards decorated to express the season and make it homely. The nurses also are at their best in terms of appearance to express the season. On Christmas morning, we go round the wards with band boys to enliven the hospital environment, distribute gifts and pray with the patients,” she says.