My heart was almost removed for nothing, can you believe that?
When I began to fall sick; I put it down to ordinary malaria. I always fell sick over every little thing; too much cold, I would be sick, too much heat and I would fall sick; when it rains, I would be sniveling; and yet, I am not a sickler, I just think I have delicate health. I was always careful about places, food, stuff, you know, so sometime last year, again I began to fall sick. I would get tired easily, I would be dizzy at times and be really exhausted, I would sweat at night and I was told my snoring was really loud.
At first, I put it down to malaria, you know, so after taking malarial medication; and I was still feeling sick and very tired, I decided to go to the hospital to see a doctor.
At the hospital, a private hospital I had been using for years, I was advised to go do a series of tests after I had told the doctor what my symptoms were and that I had just finished a full dose of anti-malarial drugs.
She then prescribed some drugs and told me to come back the following week; to be honest, I had no intention of doing that; I figured those doctors were just trying to make money for their clinics; I knew that once I felt fine, I wouldn’t go back.
But I didn’t feel fine and so four days later, I was back at the hospital, still feeling tired , pain in my chest, arm and jaw sometimes, though the discomfort hadn’t completely gone, I mean the symptoms but not as before and yet, this gave me more concern because I thought I should be feeling better.
So, I went back again to see the doctor; this time around, I didn’t meet her, I was attended to by another doctor who didn’t bother to look at my file but was busy scribbling on a blank sheet in my file.
He was just writing as I spoke and I wondered what he was writing. When I finished explaining my short medical history in the last few weeks and the symptoms I felt to him; he looked up and said he suspected a few things might be wrong with me and that he would advise I saw a physician.
‘I suspect you have a heart problem.’
‘Are you not a Physician?’ I asked him, he said, he meant a specialist.
I didn’t know the difference; anyway, I said, ‘Specialist for what?’
He said he wasn’t sure what I was really suffering from but I needed to see a physician who would be coming in as a consultant from the general hospital the following day. This meant I had to pay a special fee to see a specialist, ok?
The following day, I was at the hospital in the afternoon to see a specialist; after repeating my symptoms, telling him the drugs I took and how long I took the drugs; he said I should go do a series of tests.
I didn’t have money to do the tests but I was beginning to get scared because most of the tests were quite unfamiliar; they were not the regular type of tests I had done before; when I got to the diagnostic centre where I went to make inquiries as to the cost implications, I was surprised at the cost of some of them.
Then I began to suspect that maybe there was something really wrong with me and this made me even sicker. A few days after I raised money to go do the tests, I had to wait for two weeks for all the results to some out.
I headed to the hospital to see the specialists; again, I had to pay premium because of course he had to be the one to interpret my tests and tell me the next line of action. Low and behold, after several minutes of talking and him crosschecking with a few of his colleagues, he told me I had a congenital heart disease!
He said it explained why I felt dizzy, tired and all the other symptoms I exhibited even before I began my so called malarial treatment. He told me I had to undergo a heart surgery very quickly or I could die in a few months!
I saw my life flashing right then before my eyes; so this explained why I was always sick, I never had the energy for much; I was always tired, and unable to do many things I wanted to do.
I was later counselled by the hospital to go find money to travel to Dubai for a heart surgery. I didn’t even know where Dubai was on the map, not to talk of being able to have access to the kind of funds a surgery demanded.
After contacting a few friends, one of them asked whether I would mind them putting me on Facebook to solicit for funds.
Mind ke? I said please go ahead, I didn’t want to die, I was still a very young man of just 24 years, I didn’t mind at all!
You know, when you suddenly discover you might be dying, all kinds of ailments will just attack your system. I became sicker and sicker and was admitted at the hospital while funds were being raised for me. My mother ran from pillar to post begging for money like a common beggar, I just knew I had to fight to live.
In four months, almost N5million was raised for me to go do the surgery; of course it covered a few other expenses; flight, accommodation for me and the person that would follow me, that is my younger sister and of course the cost of the surgery.
My hospital in Nigeria had sent my files, tests result, all kinds of things they needed to send ahead to the hospital in Dubai so when we got there; I was immediately given a bed in the ward and told a few more tests would be run before a date was scheduled for my surgery.
The surgery never happened.
After a few tests were run, one small Arab doctor called me into his office and asked me what I truly came for. I was surprised because, I mean, what kind of question was that? I almost collapsed on my seat because, I thought, what tricks were these people playing? The doctor said to me, ‘see that boy?’, he pointed out of his window to a boy about 16 years old or so.
‘Your heart stronger than him…’
To cut this story short, that’s how I came back from Dubai not undergoing any surgery. Just imagine, my heart was strong and yet the doctors here wanted me to do a surgery I didn’t even need.
Chai, I felt like beating that consultant, I went back to the hospital to raise hell, I was restrained, do you know the trauma he put me through for months? I became sick from worrying. Good thing he didn’t even come the day I went but I left word, I will still beat him anywhere I see him, I mean it o!
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)