It took Madam Comfort and Madam Jennifer (Not real names) about 5 years and 1 year respectively to get to a hospital.
You would think that they would have arrived the hospital earlier but like all things in Nigeria, nothing is as easy as it seems.
The fact that Madam Comfort’s abdomen looked as if three grown men were hiding inside or that her legs looked like two Iroko trees standing side by side having a conversation wasn’t enough to wake up any sense of urgency. Madam Jennifer’s case was not so bad, her abdomen, though enlarged just made her look pregnant, for an elderly lady in her 70s I guess this wasn’t anything to seriously worry about.
A doctor confronted with such cases might not know where to start after getting over the initial shock and bewilderment, I mean, don’t these people have eyes? How can you sit at home and ignore such glaring symptoms?
There is also another quandary the doctor faces, do you take such cases as #emergencies? For surely they can’t be emergencies if they decided to take so long before presenting.
Let’s say the doctor decides just to order for some tests to be done and sends them home, there are two possible Nigerian reactions; one is to humbly accept that the doctor is always right and the other is to ask the doctor, “Look at her, can she go home like this?”
But we are skirting the main question here which is why did it take them so long to get to the hospital?
Nigeria is a unique place. Such cases happen everyday.
An elderly woman is left alone in the village while her children have gone to chase the golden fleece in Lagos, Abuja or other metropolitan areas. She notices something wrong with her body and she goes to her backyard, plucks some leaves, adds a few essentials and drinks. She expects to get better.
In a few weeks, a neighbour comes to visit and notices mama is not looking very right. “There is this specialist in roots I know, I can take you there,” the neighbour offers. A date is set for the next week.
Mama is taken there and she returns home with her ‘prescription’.
Another month passes and mama is not getting better. Some enlightened relatives come visiting.
“Mama, this looks like an attack, let’s take you to a spiritualist,” they offer.
Mama begins a 6 month spiritual therapy.
Finally mama is tired and decides to stay at home and accept her fate. Calls are made to her child/ children in the city. They respond that they will come to the village as soon as they can get time off work. They send money to mama.
It takes another 5 months before they get time. Finally they are home with mama. They look at the situation of things.
“Mama, let me return to the city and make preparations for you to come over.”
These ‘preparations’ take another 4 months.
Mama is finally in Lagos or Abuja, but that is not the end of mama’s woes.
There is no money to take mama to the hospital
Another period of hustling begins which can take several months, money is gradually collected from different relatives and well wishers.
Finally mama is brought to the hospital about 3 years after her initial symptoms.
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