Sometimes, we do things not because we’re happy or willing to but either because we are under an oath or we have a requirement to fulfill.
Even in death, Late CNO Matthew will always be my favourite Nurse.
“Life they say is not a bed of Roses,” and until today’s event, I never realized how true this statement was. Life has taken so much from people and this doesn’t exclude me – so much that I had to watch my loved ones die. And sometimes, I wish for the cold hands of death to embrace me but I decided to fight back to take the best of what I wanted by taking charge of my emotions and nurse myself. I thought Nursing is a profession where one just takes care of patients. At least, that was what I thought which drove me into studying the course until I got to my second year and realized that according to the Mother of Nursing, Florence Nightingale, Nursing is the act of utilizing the environment of the patient to assist him in his recovery.
A lot of people squander their lives in search of wealth at the detriment of their health and all they get is death. This day, like every other one since the last four days of my first clinical posting has been exciting as I get to provide holistic care to my patients on the ward as well as acquire practical knowledge. I get to resume by 8AM but most times a few minutes before that time, however, I was late on this day and my first patient, the first Professor in the physics department of a renowned University in the “Male Medical A” wouldn’t let me attend to my patient since I was assigned to him on Monday. I must have given so much energy to providing him with holistic care for a man like him who had stroke to have always preferred me over my colleagues each time he needed help.
“Would you be needing anything else, Mr Jones?” I asked after successfully hiding my abdominal pain with a smile.
His speak was slurry but I could make out he was trying to say that he was fine and that I could leave him to rest. There and there, I was able to give my attention to the Patient assigned to me.
“Good morning, Mr Akinsanya. How are you feeling this morning?” I asked after making inquiry about his name, diagnosis, medication and age from his beded ticket.
“I am fine. Thank you,” He responded with a tone that was evident that he was either not happy or angry. And that could only be because I left him to attend to a patient that was not even assigned to me.
“First, I must apologize to you for taking my time with another Patient. On this note, I would like to let you know that I am your nurse for today, therefore, whatever you need, you should let me know,” I explained with all smiles.
“I am sorry but I don’t want you to be my Nurse because you made a mistake with what you did for me yesterday,” He objected.
“Yesterday? None of us were on the ward yesterday because we had an emergency lecture and we took permission from our clinical instructors to be absent for that day. And we had assured them that we were going to pay back with a day during the weekends,” I thought.
“Why are you just standing there?” CNO Matthew asked, bring me out of my riverie.
“Ma, Mr Akinsanya would not let me give him any care,” I informed the only Nurse on duty. At least, she is the only one I have seen since I resumed that morning.
“Exercise everything you have been taught to convince him and if he still refuses, write in his beded ticket that patient refused nursing care,” She said with a tone loud enough for the patients to hear.
“Sir, I’m really sorry if I look like anyone that must have done something wrong to you. However, I need your compliance and consent to be able to provide you with a holistic care,” I said bluntly.
This went on for about half an hour and he still wouldn’t buldge neither was he willing to give his consent. There and there, I left with his bedded ticket with the intention of reporting in it that patient refused Nursing care. Just then, my colleague called out to me that my Patient, Mr Akinsanya was vomiting. I took giant strides towards him the moment he stopped vomiting.
“Mr Akinsanya, would you let me check your temperature now as well as provide you with the necessary care?”
”Okay,” he responded with a very low tone.
I brought out his thermometer and ward’s stethoscope and sphygmanometer to check his vital signs. To my greatest surprise, he had a temperature of 35.5⁰C, his pulse, respiration and blood pressure were within normal range so I informed the Chief Nursing Officer on duty before donning gloves, rubbing his body with a balm and covering him up as he was having rigor. I was documenting in his bedded ticket the Nursing care I rendered when Chief Nursing Officer came to set a Cannula after reaching out to several Doctors to no avail.
“Mr Akinsanya, I would like to set a new Cannula in your vein because the last one is not going again. I need you to understand that it is not my responsibility to do that, however, I don’t have a choice but to do it because till now, no Doctor has shown up and it is high time you took your medication,” She explained to the patient.
“Get me the Tourniquet from the trolley,” She instructed me as she assessed the patient’s veins and brought out a blue Cannula from the patient’s drug bucket that sat on the patient’s bed side table along with dry swob, methylated spirit and plaster.
At that point, I was feeling feverish, nauseous and really having pains from the peptic ulcer but the Nurses and student Nurses on duty that morning were so few, so I had to wait. Besides, it was my patient that was being cared for. As I watched her battle with setting a Cannula in a “not so prominent” vein, I realized how weak I was getting and decided to take permission to go see the Doctor at the Medical Emergency that was two corridors away from the ward.
“Ma, I would like to go for break,” I informed her.
“And who will watch over your patient? She inquired
“Besides, you know you have to wait for your other two colleagues to return before you two can go, don’t you? She asked with a raised eye brow as she took a glance in our direction.
“Ma, I am indisposed and want to use my break to see the Doctor,” I responded.
“Give me your Nursing diagnosis while your colleague checks his blood sugar level,” She requested.
“Acute pain related to stomach ulcer evidence by patient’s verbalization,” I explained.
“Check the time, hand over your patient to your colleague before leaving and make sure you come back in 40 minutes. This means you have to go to the Staff Clinic,” She instructed.
“Okay ma,” I responded.
As I was about to take my first step, Mr Akinsanya, my patient, grabbed me by my right wrist with his left hand and for a split second, everything froze. My sight was blur or maybe my eyes were shut and I could hear sounds but I couldn’t make out what exactly they were. It took a few seconds that seemed like forever to get out of that state. When I did, I saw my colleague returning the glucometer which indicates that she had checked. Whether it was low, normal or high, I had no idea neither did I hear what Mr Akinsaya said. So I had to ask my patient what he had said that I had missed.
“What was it you said sir,” I asked.
“I said I was sorry about earlier. I realized it wasn’t you the moment I noticed you are on low cut because that lady made her hair,” He finished.
I am certain I was about telling him that it was fine and that he shouldn’t do that to any other person irrespective of the fact that the person is a new Nurse or a Student Nurse when I passed out.
“Hello Miss Olaitan, how are you feeling now?” A young man probably in his mid-twenties wearing a ward coat and full of smiles asked.
“I am fine, thank you,” I responded.
“Any complaint?” He proceeded into the asking another question.
“None for now but I am kind of hungry as I have only taken breakfast and this is,” I was saying when I tried checking the time and realized I had spent 2 hours 40 minutes away from the ward which is 40 minutes past my closing time.
“Oh my goodness, I have to go back to the ward right now. Is there any medication for me to pick up at the Pharmacy?” I asked as I got up into a sitting position with my right leg on the couch in the consulting room waiting on the Doctor to remove the Cannula on my leg, very close to my ankle.
He picked up a prescription booklet, wrote out my take home drugs and took off my cannula. I didn’t even try to apply pressure to stop the bleeding neither did I wait to listen to his medical advice. All I did was clean the blood with a dry swob he gave me, dash out of his office and out of Medical Emergency in the direction of Male Medical A where my posting for that week was. The moment I got there, the ward was a bit crowded but I ignored the feeling that it could be that a patient had died since every single patient on the ward was stable before I left, so I went inside.
“Good evening Ma, I am asking after CNO Matthew. I came to apologize for taking so long at the Doctor’s,” I explained before she tries to judge my actions by other people’s behavior.
“Oh! You are the lady who fainted?”
“The patients told me. You can go to your hostel,”
“Thank you Ma,”
“By the way, CNO Matthew just passed on,”
I froze, then I moved, one step at a time until I got to my hostel and knocked gently before receiving a call from caller ID Irreplaceable. That is my mum.
“Olaitan, how are you and where are you?”
“I am fine and I am in my hostel,”
“Granny just passed on to glory,”
I could hear the clicking sound of the key from behind the door and a known face appeared before my sight. This is definitely the doctor that attended to me earlier and I am beginning to wonder what he was doing in my room or could it be the other way round for the room behind him doesn’t look anything like what I have seen in all of the three student’s hostels. This is definitely the Doctors’ quarters!
“Olaitan, are you there?”
“She could have died in my arms, I could have bid her goodbye because this is our holiday and I could have been at home if we didn’t have a cause to be having clinical postings,” I said into the phone while looking directly into the eyes of the young man in front of me.
“She could have died in my arms, I could have bid her goodbye,” Was all I remembered saying before passing out again.
PS: THIS STORY IS NONFICTION AND WAS WRITTEN BY KEHINDE OLAITAN ONIKE IN COMMEMORATION OF LATE CNO MATTHEW. THEREFORE, NO PART OR WHOLE OF THIS STORY MUST BE COPIED WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF THE AUTHOR. SUPPORT OF WRITERS’ RIGHT IS APPRECIATED.
________ABOUT THE AUTHOR _______
Kehinde Olaitan Onike is a 400 level Nursing student at the Lagos State University College Of Medicine. She’s the first (current) Editor-In-Chief of the NUNSA LASU PRESS.
She’s currently the Vice president and International service Director of the Rotaract Club of LASUCOM.
She is a poet and a writer and hopes to build a career from it.