“So doctor, what will you do for this patient?”
The look in the professor’s eyes was unsettling, as if he could see right through.
The exam had been going well for Ike, until now.
“Sir I’d like to em, I’d like… I’d want… em, having taken a good history–“
“Doctor! Will you stammer? Look we need doctors that will practice medicine with confidence! If you stammer again, this exam is over!”
Ike reached into his ward coat pocket for his handkerchief; the sweat on his forehead was getting into his eyes.
He pulled out the handkerchief and brought it up to his face. Oh my God!
He wasn’t holding a handkerchief; it was the dirty piece of cloth he usually cleaned his shoes with.
Ike woke up with a start. Thank God.
“Doctooor! Come o!” Ah ah, I thought I was dreaming
He practically jumped out of the chair he’d been dozing in, glancing up at the wall clock. Quarter past one
His pulse increased with his pace, as he walked towards the entrance of the casualty department from where he’d heard the calls, dreading what he knew he’d find.
“What is the–“ He didn’t need to finish the question, he could see for himself.
There was a taxi at the entrance, with a small crowd around the right rear door of the cab. Two nurses were in the process of bringing somebody out, probably unconscious, from the back seat. His heart skipped a beat. He hadn’t seen very many emergencies since he started his house job at the teaching hospital two weeks previously. In fact, he’d only been on call at the casualty once. Hopefully this would be like the cases he’d seen; uneventful.
Ike moved closer to the car. He could see it was a lady they were carrying out, probably in her early twenties. She had on a small purple blouse and a wrapper round her waist. Her hair was scattered across her face, with blood patches on her neck and blouse. Part of the wrapper looked wet.
“You people should clear the way, clear the way so they can pass.” He muttered weakly.
His years of medical training seemed to evaporate; his textbooks had deserted him. He was left with his wits, and the little clinical experience he had.
Different thoughts raced through his head as he fought to gain composure. Intravenous lines. Wide bore cannulas. Normal saline. Resuscitation. ATLS protocol
Ike was shaken from his reverie. “Bring her inside” He croaked, then cleared his throat. “Please bring her inside.”
“Get me normal saline,” he said, dashing towards a resuscitation tray.
He picked up a cannula, then dropped it. He looked around.
By this time the patient had been transferred to a bed. A nurse was talking to the people that had brought her, asking for a relative or friend.
He walked to the bed and reached for the patient’s wrist, then held it. He counted her pulse, at the same time casting a cursory glance over her, from head to toe.
Her neck was bent to one side. He reached up and straightened it, then ran his hands through her hair.
She can’t tell me where is paining her
He dragged a screen across, giving her some privacy, but mainly so the people at the door wouldn’t see him fidgeting.
He placed his fingers on her cheeks and squeezed her mouth open. Clear
He watched her chest rise and fall. Good she’s breathing ok
He reached again for the cannula, tearing it out of its packet before remembering he wasn’t wearing gloves. He dropped it and put on the gloves, then picked it up again.
He then cleaned the back of her hand with a cotton wool swob. Since the patient was a little on the fat side, no vein readily volunteered itself. He tied a tourniquet around her wrist and cleaned again. Nothing. He bent her hand towards the light and saw what he thought was a vein.
Ike brought the cannula towards it, flinching as the needle pierced her skin. He pushed it in half way then it got stuck. He pulled it out a bit then forced it in. It got stuck again. It was then he realized it was in too deep and was probably touching bone. He pulled it out, too quickly, as blood squirted out and onto his ward coat.
He cursed silently.
Ike cleaned the patient’s hand and looked again. All the veins appeared to have taken off at the first sign of trouble. He untied the tourniquet and reached for her left hand.
He went through the same process again, but this time he was lucky to get the needle into a vein. By this time his forehead was sweaty, but he couldn’t risk touching his handkerchief with the bloody gloves.
He brought a sample bottle close and took a sample of her blood. He would need it to run some tests and get blood for her later.
He connected the ‘drip’ to the cannula and set it to run fast.
Ike stood back, with his knuckles on his hips and looked at the patient, as if to admire a work of art.
He stepped forward after a while, grabbed a pair of scissors and cut through her blouse, down the middle.
All these small girls. She better not complain when she wakes up
He ran his fingers over her limbs, checking for wounds he had missed during his cursory inspection, then took off the wrapper covering her, as his hands continued their journey over her legs, feeling, feeling…
Ike imagined himself in her shoes, with one young doctor running his hands over his naked body. He shuddered at the thought.
A few minutes later he finished examining her, covered her with a drape, and went to look for a relative or friend so he could get a medical history.
As he walked towards the entrance to the casualty he caught the eyes of a man he recognized as one of those that had brought the patient.
“Sir, please come. I’m Doctor Ike, I’d like to get details of what happened. What’s your name?”
But the man’s reply was interrupted by gunshots, and a stampede.
The crowd that had been outside suddenly materialized inside the casualty.
He heard someone shout, “Go down! Everybody!” Then more gunshots.
Ike dove to the ground without thinking twice, closing his eyes tight. His first thought was to take off his ward coat.
Kidnappers! They’ve come to catch us here!
He seriously considered taking off his ward coat, but the gunmen were already inside.
“U wan die? Eh? Come on go down?!”
“Wia dem? Wia de cashier?” he heard another voice shout.
It immediately hit him! They had come to rob the pay point at the casualty.
There was a bank within the hospital premises, but there were also pay points at different places within the hospital complex, including the casualty, where small payments for drugs and such things were made. When put together, these small payments ran into tens or even hundreds of thousands, especially on a Sunday like this.
“Wia de doctors wey dey hia? Bring dem!”
Ike opened his eyes to steal a glance towards the gunmen, but found himself staring up the barrel of a rifle. He wasn’t into guns, but he could tell this was no toy.
“Gerrup! Come hia!”
He got on his knees visible shaken.
“I…I,” He mumbled.
“Sharrap man! I say come hia” The gunman shouted.
Ike stood up and shuffled in the direction of the gunman. He could count four of them, but there were probably more outside. They weren’t wearing masks, and that worried him. They were dressed in casuals, like many of the people lying on the floor.
“Na you be de doctor hia abi? How much you get?” The man blared.
“Sir I…I’m a medical…a medical student sir–” He managed.
“Sharrap!” The man lunged at him, aiming a fist at Ike’s face. He missed.
“Wia your car keys?” The gunman thundered.
“Sir, I– I no get.”
Behind him he heard a shout “Come on, bring the money!” Then a shot, followed by a scream. There was another shot, then silence.
Ike heard a voice behind him, “Smoke, let’s go. Waste all of dem”
By this time Ike was back on the ground, his knees had failed him.
Oh Lord ,receive my spirit, I confess my sins, He gasped,
“Champion , groundnut no go reach for all of dem, make we go”
Ike barely heard the discussions the men were having.
God, I’m sorry for…God I beg, God please take me…
He heard another shot and flinched. This time the sound had come from outside. He opened his eyes and looked up. The gunmen had left, but nobody was standing yet.
He pushed himself up, feeling something cold along his left thigh. He realised he had wet himself. Thankfully his ward coat covered his trousers.
He stood up quickly before others could see him, and walked towards the door opposite where the gunmen exited. By this time others had started getting up. He heard someone scream something about somebody bleeding, but he didn’t wait. He headed for the house officers’ quarters as fast as his legs could carry him…