MEDICAL STUDENT

Care a Little More and Give a Little More Time

WAA! WAA! WAA! The shrill wails of infants permeated the night’s air, rousing me from a sleep that was as brief as it was fulfilling: that is to say, not at all. Afar off, I could hear the dull shuffles of a doctor making his night rounds punctuated by the futile pleas of children for their mothers’ presence, typical of UCH’s paediatric ward; altogether, an unpleasant experience. As I lay in bed, unable to claim sleep’s sweet embrace, my mind began to dart from one mundane topic concerning my life to another: did anybody in school miss me? Would this affect my grades? What was my mom doing at this point in time? For like the younger children surrounding me, teenage me certainly did not wish to be there and desperately wished to see his mother. With all the thoughts racing through my mind, it felt like all I could do was keep my head above water.
 
Till this day, whenever I think of illness, that experience strays into my thoughts. Not the headaches which hounded me for days after being discharged, not the memories of excreting into an aluminum bowl in plain sight of kids far younger than I (I can remember the words to describe these experiences but not the emotion); no, what really sticks out is the first night when I was physically sound enough to lament my own fate.
 
Oftentimes, nothing drives ideas more deeply into the human psyche than the emotions that accompany life experiences. The strongest form of empathy is derived from the knowledge that you were once in the same boat and would have wanted others to react the same way – a thought borne out of a selfish human nature but still able to do good.
 
At no point during my stint did I ever consider the possibility that I mightn’t make it out of the hospital alive, not because my ailment couldn’t prove fatal or because I believed my doctors could cure any disease (I hardly knew them), but because I had faith in my parents to get me through. In truth, I could have very well died while in UCH, but not from my ailment: it was caught early on and wasn’t likely to become fatal.
 
What came closest to killing me wasn’t the minuscule piece of RNA wrapped by a protein coat flowing through my veins; it was the mislabelled x-ray that was purported to be mine, the injection that stood a high risk of aggravating my pre-existing heart condition if it hadn’t been discovered, the line in my veins which should have gotten infected due to improper management. If I had died, it wouldn’t have been from a disease we have long since known how to cure; it would have been from failure to follow proper procedure.
 
But none of that happened because I had people who cared for me, not as a job, but as a matter of personal interest. I had people willing to do things for me beyond just what was required to treat a physical disease. I am well aware that not everyone in that ward lived long enough to see me leave it, and maybe whatever they had just couldn’t be cured, but I can’t help but think that maybe they would have survived if the medical professionals had cared a little more and given a little more time.
 
If I learnt anything from getting sick, it’s that everything else pales in comparison to human compassion if the patient’s well-being and satisfaction are truly of import. As a medical student, I truly hope I never forget this lesson.

Alebiosu Boluwaduro

Bolu grew up in Ibadan and is currently in his third year studying Medicine and Surgery at the University of Ibadan, Oyo State. He schooled at both The Vale College and Rhema Chapel International College, Ibadan. Ever since he was a child he has loved literature. Inspired by his experiences in the university he has a propensity for putting his thoughts to paper as a means of inspiring the next generation.

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