Sunday, May 29, 2005

NAFCON, Onne: Trauma in Enugu

Enugu was home to me. I grew up here. My parents had lived in Abakaliki before the Nigeria/Biafra war and there I was born. My family got dislodged by the civil war. When the war ended my mother had little choice but to settle in Enugu and try to bring us up here. We had lost our father in the war. Thus it was that I attended my primary schools in Enugu, first at (St Michael’s) Construction Primary School, Asata; and then finishing at (Christ Church) Uwani River Primary School, Uwani. From here I attended College of the Immaculate Conception (CIC), still in Uwani Enugu. My University education was again at Nsukka, 50km from Enugu, or 45 munites by road. I knew Enugu very well and most friends that I had at this time also had their backgrounds in Enugu. Hence, the trip to the National Orthopaedic Hospital Enugu was to me like coming home.

On 23rd November 1996, a welfare nurse, Mrs Opara appointed by Nafcon, and another from Pamo Clinic were to make the trip to Enugu with me in the Nafcon ambulance. A number of friends, many my Nafcon colleagues, were on hand at Pamo to see us off. So also was my girl friend at the time, Amaka. Quite unknown to me, Amaka was waiting at home for me to come back from work when she heard of my ghastly mishap. She had come to Pamo Clinic to see me, and now wanted to join me to Enugu in the ambulance. This request was turned down because there wasn’t room enough in the ambulance. She was advised to come by public transport. Thus, even without going back to tell her folks Amaka also proceeded to Enugu.

There wasn’t much incident on the way to Enugu, except for my pains, of course. I prayed that we'd get there in time for me to get some relief. I’d followed the journey as much as I could. Situated at Thinker’s Corner, where the roads to Abakpa, New Haven and Emene intersected, I knew the location of the Orthopaedic hospital from every direction in Enugu. Some friends and family of mine had worked there and some still did, even at that time. I’d visited the hospital on quite a good number of occasions. So when we approached the exit point on the Port Harcourt-Enugu express I warned my colleagues. After a little argument they decided I wasn’t sure what I was saying and continued on a course that was sure to end us up at Abakaliki. Too weak to be effective, I let them be. When it became obvious to them that we had veered off our track they had to turn back. We were then a munite to Orie Emene market!

It was late evening therefore, when we got to the premises of the Orthopaedic Hospital. I was deposited in a place called "Trauma". This was the Accident and Emergency unit of the hospital! Mrs Opara and company went through the protocol of late reception, registration and admission, and proceeded to find hotel accomodation in town for the night. It was also at this stage, I think, that my folks in Enugu were made aware of my troubles. Meanwhile, people who had gathered around at the news of 'a new arrival' were discussing and speculating on my situation and possible course of treatment. In my misery I could still hear some whispers. Someone suggested that I was in really very bad shape and that they might have to cut off my hand! O no, I thought, surely my situation couldn't be this desparate. I was particularly worried about the possibility of losing my arm.

Dr Ogbonna was the medic that supervised my reception on arrival at Trauma. He led the team that immediately commenced my preparation for treatment that night. There had been speculations as to whether they were going to cut off my hand. My anxiety had forced me to inquire first hand from Dr Ogbonna concerning my situation. His reaction was quite reassuring,
We do not cut people's hands here, he said.
I was sent into the operating theatre immediately after protocols, and the staff were to begin what I later learnt was called 'debreadment' in medical terms. From that day also I was to spend the next 18 months of my life in this hospital, passing through stages of impossible agony and pain, stabilization, rehabilitation, frustration, and one incident of death and resurrection! The accident or its treatment, I couldn't say for sure which was more directly agonizing and painful. But I quickly realised that my life would never be the same again after this.

As soon as they applied that dreaded injection it was oblivion...

No comments: