Pedro woke up with a bad headache later that evening; she had been unconscious for nearly 5 hours.
It took her a while to realize she was in a hospital. There was a lot of activity going on; policemen were walking all over the place, and there was a broken window at one end. She raised her head to get a better view, but shrieked in pain and collapsed back on the bed.
She felt someone fiddle with her left hand, and suddenly the pains were less.
“Hi, how are you feeling?”
She opened her eyes and saw someone bending over her. He was a young man in a white ward coat. He had a nice voice and a friendly face.
“How are you?” He asked again.
“Eh, I’m f- I’m fine.” She said.
“Hmm. If you’re fine why are you in the hospital?” He asked, smiling.
Pedro didn’t even smile, it wasn’t funny. How could a doctor be making jokes while she was in pains?
“I’m Dr Ike,” he said, “what’s your name?”
“Ok, Pedro. Count yourself lucky to be under my care, at least for the few hours left until the strike.”
“What strike?” She asked, surprised.
“Oh, sorry. My bad. Don’t bother about that” he replied.
“Your friend Nonso has given me some of your details and a bit of what happened, but she just stepped outside to make a call.”
“She gave you my details?” Pedro asked, “And omitted my name?” Right. Who’s this guy? She thought to herself.
“She did, actually. I only asked because I wanted to determine your level of consciousness, and from our conversation so far, you’re doing fine. So, tell me what happened before you passed out.”
Pedro reasoned fast. She couldn’t tell him the truth, it would be written in her case notes forever that she had come to the hospital without cleaning her…
Instead she told him she had gone to urinate, but had blacked out when she got up from the toilet seat.
She said she had regained consciousness after a while, but when she tried to crawl out of the toilet a passer-by had inadvertently hit her head with the toilet door while opening it, and she had blacked out again.
Dr Ike filled her in with the rest of the story that Nonso had given him: Some good Samaritans doing evangelism had found her unconscious behind the toilet door, and had brought her to the hospital.
He also told her about the robbery incident, omitting the part where he wet himself and had to run to the house officers’ quarters for a bath and change of clothing.
Nonso returned just before Ike finished his assessment. She had come back from town that afternoon and found the toilet in a mess. It was her neighbours who told her Pedro had an accident and had been taken to the hospital.
“Pedro darl, how far now?” Nonso chaffed as she came close, “I hear say you go nod toilet.”
But Pedro could only manage a weak smile.
“Anyhow sha, I just called your mum. She said she’ll fly in first thing in the morning.”
“Ok, thanks.” Pedro replied
Ike shook his head as he wrote in Pedro’s case notes: Spinal cord lesion secondary to (query)traumatic fracture of cervical vertebra. Inability to use lower limbs.
“Doctor, why did you shake your head?” Nonso asked
Ike was startled. “Nothing, just clearing my thoughts. A lot has happened today.”
He finished up, closed the folder and turned to Pedro with a stern face.
“When you fell, you hit the back of your neck on the seat of the WC. It looks like one or two bones in your neck are broken, and it affected your spinal cord. So you won’t be able to use your legs, at least for a while.”
Pedro was quiet as she considered what she had just been told. I can’t use my legs? For a while? Wheelchair? God forbid.
“No promises yet,” Ike added, “it can go either way. The damage may be permanent, but I think it’s only temporary.”
“Doctor you said what?” Nonso shouted
Ike tried to calm her down. “Don’t worry, she’s still a young lady, she’ll be fine. I was just making sure you didn’t-“
“Didn’t what?” Nonso interrupted
“Please calm down, calm down.” Ike said.
Meanwhile Pedro was already sobbing, not paying attention to the argument going on. It was her legs they were talking about after all; she was the one to walk or not to walk.
“I’ll be in the call room for the rest of the night,” Ike said, “if you need anything. The residents and nurses are threatening to start a one-week strike tomorrow because of the incident and the security situation, so you might have to be discharged tomorrow.”
“Eh? Discharged? To where now? What kind of thing is this?” Nonso protested
“Sorry, but that’s the situation.” he replied, walking away. “The robbers shot one of the nurses, but thankfully she’s still alive. That’s why they’re going on strike.”
Nonso tried to comfort Pedro as they watched Dr Ike go.
“Pedro don’t worry, he’s just giving us a worst case scenario. You’ll be fine. Keep trying to wiggle your toes, just keep trying.”
It took quite a while, but Pedro finally settled down to sleep that night.
Nonso sat beside her watching her sleep, then got up and walked around when she could no longer bear the mosquito bites. When she got tired she came back to sit down. She impatiently watched the ‘drip’ as it dropped in the tube connected to Pedro’s hand, resisting the temptation to make it drop faster.
The ‘drip’ was almost finished when Pedro got up again to evade the mosquitoes. She was a bit groggy as she strolled outside. She stood for a while, inhaling the cold night air and staring into the darkness. She must have stood for quite a long while, because her leg were beginning to feel heavy as she turned round and walked back inside the casualty.
She was almost at Pedro’s bed when she froze.
The ‘drip’ was still connected to Pedro’s hand, but instead of the colourless fluid flowing into her hand, pale blood was flowing out of Pedro’s hand, up the tube and into the bag which now contained Pedro’s blood.
“Doctor! Nurse!” She screamed, waking up Pedro and the other patients.
She didn’t stop screaming till a nurse walked casually to Pedro’s bed, turned off the drip and told her to shut up.