By Monday morning Pedro’s condition had gotten worse; she had a fever and her legs were swollen. The incident with the drip hadn’t helped matters though Dr Ike had assured them shortly after it happened that it was nothing to worry about.
Nonso too had her own issues. The mosquitoes hadn’t spared her at all. Her arms and legs were covered with reddish spots and scratches.
At the time Pedro woke up Dr Ike was not around, but he had come in at a few minutes to six. A different house officer had come to see her while Ike saw other patients.
Ike came later and confirmed the bad news: he was discharging her that morning. They were going ahead with the strike.
“Doctor where do we go to?” Pedro asked.
“Well, my consultant has a clinic in town; let me write down the address for you.”
“Will you wait for your mum?” Nonso asked Pedro
“She should meet you there.” Ike interrupted. “The earlier you get there the better. You know how traffic is these days.”
Pedro hadn’t been in the hospital for up to 24 hours, but she had accumulated a bill of 35 thousand naira. This country Is really messed up, she had thought to herself when Nonso showed her the bill.
Nonso had withdrawn some money from the ATM beside the casualty, so they had been able to settle the bills.
Less than an hour later they were on their way to the consultant’s clinic in a taxi. Pedro lay on her back in the back seat while Nonso sat in front.
However, they ran into traffic along the East-West road. The taxi driver said he knew an alternate route so they decided to take it, but that was even worse. After traffic had crawled for almost two hours they still hadn’t gotten halfway to their destination.
Meanwhile Pedro’s mum had already reached the clinic, and kept calling to know where they were, and if she was at the right place.
The road cleared a bit, and just when Pedro thought fate had smiled on her she suddenly started coughing.
Nonso looked from the front seat and saw that she was coughing up blood.
“My che- My chest!” Pedro cried
Nonso shouted at the taxi driver to move faster, but the car wasn’t even moving. Traffic was at a halt again.
She dialed Dr Ike’s number which she had taken from him the previous night, after the drip incident.
“Doctor, Pedro o!” she said into the phone, “She’s coughing blood, she’s holding her chest!”
Oh God! Ike thought Pulmonary embolism
“Ok,” he replied, trying to hide the tension in his voice, “Try to get to any hospital around you as fast as you can. Forget the one I told you about, take a bike, carry her, whatever.”
Ike smacked himself as the call ended. From what Pedro had told him initially, he had suspected that a small blood clot had lodged in her brain, causing the first blackout. Since Pedro hadn’t moved her legs for so long the blood in her leg veins must have formed clots, which moved to her lungs and blocked a blood vessel there, causing the sudden cough and chest pain.
Pedro had only heard Nonso’s end of the conversation with Dr Ike, but it wasn’t difficult to figure out how bad her situation was.
The taxi was moving fast now, and Pedro realized the taxi driver was driving against traffic. She hoped he wouldn’t be stopped by police. But who cares about breaking the law to save a life? She thought, Is there even any law left in this country?
She closed her eyes as her mind raced through all that had happened in the past 24 hours.
Gradually the pain began to feel distant, Nonso’s shouts were drowned by her thoughts; she couldn’t even hear the taxi driver honking away.
Once again it all felt like a dream, only that she wasn’t waking up, she was entering it. She imagined a dark hooded figure, with a plain black face interrupted by a wide white grin, from ear to ear, mocking her, casting a dark shadow over her bright future.
Tears filled her eyes as she saw the irony of it all; here she was, dying in traffic on her way from a teaching hospital. The people she trusted with her life had failed her. But was it their fault? Whose fault was it anyway?
She breathed her last with a sarcastic grin, as if to spit in the face of death, thinking; Surely there’s no better way to die…