Tag Archives: Hospital

Parenting As A Child – Welcoming Charles III

I recently had a child, a second and a boy. He came almost five years after the first, in spite of my dodging tactics. Now that he has come, I have been quite excited, the kind of tearful excitement you feel but cannot fully express. Somehow, the excitement is entirely different from what the majority of people might think. Several of my friends and associates decided to display their chauvinistic worldview with handshakes laced by “you’re now a man,” in reference to the male child. It was to spurn this chauvinism that I decided to name the first, a girl, after myself. Unfortunately, I am not excited – only thankful – that he is a boy. I’m thankful because I now have comparative basis to understand how male and female children act and I can do experimental parenting in some respects, trying to test some ideas I have nursed. My excitement about Charles III is entirely based on the reaction of his elder one, Charlene. Like true soul mates, she and I waited for the arrival of the newborn and when he finally arrived, those who had the grace to watch us reported that we acted as school children.

I approached parenting with trepidation. No matter how much fun lovers may feel towards each other, I think parenting should be approached with a great sense of reflection and responsibility. Deciding to get married didn’t come to me as a life mission. In fact, it was one aspect of human consciousness I never gave much thought about. I still remember vividly having to make arrangements to get married after the initial traditional requirements – paying for the wedding gown, the cake, ordering souvenirs, booking the reception venue and taking care of all other logistics. Then few weeks to the time, I called the prospective bride and told her I wasn’t sure I was meant to get through with the marriage. Maybe if I have the luxury of ever writing a memoir sometime in the future, I would tell the whole story; but suffice it to say that I walked away and didn’t look back, even amidst the tears she shed. I still remember a friend who hadn’t heard the wedding was called off going to the church and sitting through a wedding ceremony on the assumption that it was mine, until she heard different names of the couple being called out. I have been a misfit most of my life in many aspects, but this tag has helped me to know the things that matter. I can talk about it now because I ended up marrying the same woman I walked away from, though three years after. As part of the twist, I’ve been married to her at four different ceremonies. I must admit that experience has been a most binding force of our lives together than any other. So, it was not difficult to give in to her pestering desire for a second child.

I have been asked several times why I walked away then. My answer has been simple: I walked away because I didn’t know why I should stay. Over the past six years of being married, I have tried to pore through my subconscious to understand why I walked away. The closest reason I came up with has been fear of parenting. Getting married is the littlest of my concerns. Marriage is about companionship; same thing as partnership. My background in sociology has been helpful in making me see that when two people are involved in a harmonious relationship they form symmetric bonding and human energies, when well harnessed, can bring about healthier interaction. However, when you throw in a third party, things turn somewhat asymmetric. Now, you have people playing different roles, viz. the man plays husband and father in addition to plethora of other roles outside the relationship and the woman plays wife and mother in addition to several others too. The likelihood of role strain is very much near.

I decided to look too deeply into the decision to marry and focused, not so much on the marriage itself, but on the resultant condition of becoming a father at some point. I was brought up to believe, though erroneously, that having a child is a natural consequence of marriage. This erroneous content of our upbringing has robbed many marriages the joy of each other’s companionship as the society put so much pressure on the couple to deliver on their marriage mandate. Having watched marriages hit the rock and children grow up without bearing, I have been concerned about the task of taking care of a child in today’s morally tasking world in the face of pursuing a career. The crave of materialism has not also helped matters. I believe no child should be brought into this world without being given a good moral compass to navigate the poisonous waters of human choices and consequences. In addition to this moral compass, children must be provided for but never to be made to crave for money or wealth. The greatest wealth anyone can attain is containment. In fact, in these increasingly expensive educational times, having an insurance arrangements that would take care of one’s child in the future when your income or continued employment may not be guaranteed is wisdom. With life expectancy as low as 51 years in Nigeria, it is even more pertinent that our planned parenting be imbued with wisdom each step of the way.

I have been busy watching my daughter play the role of big sister. There is so much attention paid to the newborn and I have decided to let mine focus on the older child. I still remember holding her hands in the maternity section of the hospital that Sunday afternoon to offer prayer of agreement for safe delivery. Through my relationship with the young one, I have come to realize that we actively collaborate with God to bring forth children for a purpose, a process that builds our faith and teaches us so many things. I have adopted the approach that the best way to be a parent is to approach parenting as a child, freeing oneself of the adultness baggage we carry about. Children should be allowed to be children, given healthy worldview and opportunities to be fully that. Parenting as a child is adopting the worldview of the child to look at what the adult sees. For me, freedom of expression has been my primary commitment. I want to offer the children opportunity to say whatever it is that may be on their mind, without hushing them. It is only when I know these expressions that I can understand their thought processes and provide necessary guidance. In approaching this too, I am mindful that many adults need guidance and sometimes a child might provide a glimpse of a direction not thought of. So, I am choosing to be free-spirited, exemplary and loving in encountering the experiential learning process called parenting.

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Filed under Life

shadow of a hand

I’ve always known being a parent isn’t an easy task but it all turned real when I swapped positions by becoming a mother of an adorable two year old whose father had followed the desire of his loins and renounced responsibilities and I, on that fateful afternoon of December Twenty-First (after busying myself with a lot of chores) was so tired that I could only struggle half-asleep to play with my daughter who was so active that I didn’t know when I slept off until I was woken by her repeated coughing only to find out that while I lay napping she had played with my purse that was close by, removed a key to a drawer and swallowed it which resulted in her choking, leaving me with full consciousness that being a parent is a full-time job that one must not shirk off because I almost ran mad in the wake of the moment when I carried her in my arms in deep confusion and walked down the road in search of a means of transportation, finding all the cabs fully occupied, wondering why bikes were banned in the face of poor transportation system which delayed my arrival at the hospital; after finally arriving, found that the doctors were too busy to attend to me as an emergency since there were many of such cases and when one did eventually come through, ended up telling me to wait for another thirty minutes for them to arrange fuel that would power the generator as there was no electricity to conduct the x-ray which later showed that the key had moved down and settled around her abdomen with an assurance that all I needed to do was to take her home and wait and wait and wait while feeding her some medication and specified foods – a waiting that was emotionally draining as I watched her play gleefully without my being able to bring myself to play along until four days later, when she stooled out the key and I, in uncontrollable excitement, almost ran out of the house nude in praise of God’s miraculous hand.

Note: This is another of my one-sentence short story.

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Filed under One Sentence Story, Poetry, Writing

Safer Onboard

It was a scorching afternoon as I stood there, at the lanai of the Accident and Emergency Unit of the hospital. Like an ambulatory patient, my eyes were taking in spectral glimpses of multiple faces interacting deeply with the atmosphere. Over there was a man being lifted out of a car onto a wheelchair. He was frail and elderly. There was another man by a pillar supporting the covered porch, seated on a stone on the ground. His head was bent in deep recollection, supported by his two palms. Closer by, was a woman on the phone. She was telling the other party that her son had gone to the bank to pay the required money and would thereafter bring the teller. Not far away a lady circled with a child dressed with only diaper in her arms, trying to pacify her to stop screaming. Close by was a group of four, three women and a man. They had questioning eyes that sought answers from each other. Just about where I stood, a young man was assisting another to offload cartons of Parazone® bleach being supplied to the hospital.

I stood and sipped the flurry of movements, people going in and out, with eyes and hearts ached by varied pains in search of unknown reliefs. It was in the midst of this thoughtful repose that a young man approached me. He, without asking to know if I was familiar with the environment, enquired where a bank was close by. I pointed to a microfinance bank I could see in sight, but he declined and said the hospital sent him specifically to a particular commercial bank. I pointed to a security operative some distance away, advising him to seek his answer there. I was left to return to my conscious engagement with my surrounding.

I had gone to the hospital to see a friend who was coming also to see a friend whose child was admitted at the hospital. We had agreed to meet at the hospital and I arrived earlier than her. It was while waiting for her arrival that I took in the above snippets of my environment. As I stood there, one thing that came so strongly to my senses was the hospital smell. I don’t know whether to call it a stench or a scent. Well, I don’t think it was a stench, though it had a choking sensation on me. But there is a strong impression the hospital environment leaves on the olfactory senses. Something uniquely hospital-like, though hardly hospitable. May be it was my mind, but I sensed it as a child, about thirty years ago. I grew up, without being taught, to identify it as the smell of death. Yes, the smell of death.

If you have been to Nigeria’s hospitals, you would have, no doubt, perceived the smell that distinguishes the hospitals, something that hovers between dearth and death. I’m referring to the dearth of healthy medical facilities, of committed and competent medical personnel whose primary drive is service over money, the dearth of needed equipment to forestall increasing deaths. Many Nigerians have lost family members and friends to the dearth of good medical facilities, lack of electricity, poor recruitment process, bureaucratic bottlenecks in hospitals among other causes. Unfortunately, the problem isn’t abating. With increasing polarization of socio-economic status and inequality, little commitment is shown towards empowering healthcare facilities in the country. Many medical personnel are recruited through personal contacts, sometimes with a history of doctored competences, rather than on merit.

As a child, there were two inviting professions that stood out as being at the service of the individual, with a twin commitment to salvage man disease of the body and the mind. They were the medical and teaching professions. Both existed to complement each other in treating the somatic and psychic ills of human existence. They delighted in helping you live healthy life and enjoy the delight of study in building the mind, the reservoir of human well-being. But the times have changed. Though I have met a few doctors who are driven with a commitment to save lives, I have met many who are presently brazen-faced in their drive for money over service.

The smell of death that enmeshes the hospital is so pervasive that you can visit the hospital healthy and return ill, either by just being in the hospital ward or using the toilet facilities. It is the vicious circle of medical care and it probably accounts for bouts of in-patient/out-patient interaction that characterizes the medical treatment process. I’ve been to tertiary hospitals, as well as private ones, where water does not run, and you have to use bucket to fetch water and flush the toilets. I’ve been to ones where medical personnel are lackadaisical in responding to patients, no matter how obvious the patient’s health condition might be. I’ve sat before a doctor who had to google symptoms and prescribe medication without running tests. I have lost family and friends because of the negligence of medical personnel.

I must admit, I have met wonderful doctors who are selfless in their practice, but they are getting fewer by the day. The work ethic of the medical professionals is dwindling by the day and no matter how much money is injected into the health sector in building hospitals, providing equipment and paying emoluments, if the work ethic is not addressed, death will always lurk in the atmosphere of the medical facilities. If truth must be told, I feel closer to death being at the hospitals than being onboard an aircraft in Nigeria.

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Filed under Death, Ethic, Health, Life