My friends and I bumbled along as we discussed the intense laboratory posting we just finished at the Hematology Department. Still in our white laboratory coats, we said our goodbyes and I continued outside the College gates, towards the supermarket across the road. I was lost in thought, trying to recall the day’s lectures, unaware of my immediate environment, when I was accosted and bundled by two hefty men, their biceps the size of bloated yams. As I tried to free myself from their vice-like grip, I noticed the chaos everywhere and the shouts of “Doctor, help!” filled the air. As I approached the scene, I saw the cause of the hullaballoo, an accident had just happened; two men lay unconscious on the floor, with the tires of a crumpled motorcycle still spinning a few centimeters away. That was when I understood what was happening. Apparently, they must have thought I was a doctor seeing my white coat and thinking I would save the situation. I was going to start explaining that I was only a Medical Laboratory student, but none would have even heard me amidst the wails and cries. I tried to take in the scene and see how I could help. But, the blood everywhere just kept reminding me of Hematology Lab again.
Well, I remembered the first rule in the Laboratory; treat all specimens as pathologic, even yours, except that these specimens were the size of two full grown human beings. So I brought out a pair of latex gloves from my coat pocket and quickly put it on. What would you have done in my shoes anyway? I bent down and checked the carotid of the first man, probably the motorcycle rider, from his stained jacket, it was easy to know. I felt no pulse and concluded he was dead, yes, very dead. At this moment, tachycardia had set in. I could hear my own heartbeat above all the chaos, this was not my specialty, I was no paramedic. I was going to scream for someone to call 911 like they do in the movies, but then I realized two things were wrong in this movie. Firstly, the only free service lines that work in this part of the world were network providers’ Customer Care. Secondly, and most importantly, this movie was real. I moved to the other guy. apparently, the passenger and I felt a weak pulse. I looked down and saw blood gushing from his left side. From the little anatomy I did in Premed. I knew the spleen must have been ruptured, since blood kept gushing out of his upper left abdomen. I concluded he was in shock, and all I could think of was to at least stop the profuse bleeding. Without looking up, I called out for anyone to give me a clean cloth, but since none answered, I guessed they were too busy trying to see the miracle I would perform. I quickly stripped off my white coat and stuffed it in the wide gash. There was no point caring about infecting an already dying man. If we did not get him to a hospital quickly, the intraperitoneal hemorrhage or the shock or whatever kills accident victims would kill him.
At this point, my bravery mode had been turned on. I decided we’ll look for the next available vehicle and load both the dead and the dying, and see if we could outrun death. As I looked up to seek for assistance, what I saw shocked me. The man I had presumed dead a few seconds earlier was on his feet, with glazed eyes looking directly at me. I knew my mind must have been playing tricks on me, which was not impossible after eight straight hours of lectures and posting, and ending up being an ad-hoc paramedic. With jaws dropped, I tried to scream, but my dead voice did not resurrect like the motorcycle rider. I noticed he was in a white coat just like the one that was stuffed into the intestine of the passenger. His expression seemed to be questioning, like “Why didn’t you save me”. At that moment, I had had enough. As I looked up to see if everyone was seeing what I was seeing. If what I saw earlier shocked me, this was nothing compared to that. Everyone around me was in a blood-stained white coat identical to mine, with glazed eyes.
To all medic, treat all blood specimens as pathologic, even yours.
It seemed they were all moving towards me. It was like Walking Dead playing in front of my eyes. I tried to scream and bolt at the same time, but I felt a cold hand on my shoulder. As I turned to look who or what it was, that was when I jumped up. I looked round my room to see if there was any zombie lurking around, but as I scanned, my eyes fell on the clock hung on the wall, it was 7.55am. It was a dream after all, and I was late for my morning class. Again.
Written by Oyebamiji Toba, a Medical Laboratory Science student of the University of Ibadan.