This story is by Emenena Bryt and was part of our 2021 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
A RUDE SHOCK
Jane walked into the Consulting room looking frail and tired. It was obvious to Dr Afegbua that she’s been ill for a while. With her, was an older woman and male. Everyone looked quite agitated and expectant of some news. The doctor greeted them as they came in and requested a brief introduction. The older woman was the mother and the guy was her younger brother. Dr Afegbua requested that the sibling excused them. It was not a very big room and also, he won’t want to consult in a crowd.
So Caleb left and just the two women remained. It was not the first time that the Dr was seeing her. He recollected immediately, that sometime ago, he’s seen her sang in a church choir, where she led and was such a beautiful expression.
The usual consultation began. After the examination that followed, the diagnosis wasn’t farfetched. Though she’s been from one health facility to another and has been told different things, Dr Afegbua told with great certainty that she had a kidney failure and was now at end stage, requiring renal replacement either in form of dialysis or kidney transplant surgery. As usual, the questions that followed was what could have caused it. A young girl, barely 27yr old, who does not smoke, drink alcohol nor uses bleaching agents, and a devoted Christian. How she ended up with kidney failure was the question the family sort to understand. She was admitted immediately into the hospital and in few days was meant to have her first dialysis session.
Her family’s financial status could best be described as less than average. Her mum was a petty trader and her dad, a plumbing artisan. They barely could make ends meet. However, she recently got a job at entry level with a big commercial bank and the family became upbeat about their fortunes.
She will first be able to care for herself and then family members too, as she grows. The bank, despite her being a relatively new staff, had been very understanding. You could count the number of times she had been to work the last 6months, yet her salary continued.
Dialysis was expensive and even middle class and fairly rich people will be impacted financially when they go through this. Every dialysis session was a struggle to achieve. She literally had gotten help from everyone who knew her, and could afford any kind of help. Even Dr Afegbua had to sometimes pay for her dialysis. Jane was in a promising a relationship. But the young man’s relatives won’t even hear it. The burden of marrying someone with kidney failure was too much to bear. More so, who wants to be a widower so early into marriage life. Joe bowed to the pressure and eventually left her. She understood her fiancé relatives’ perspective and forgave him. “Who wouldn’t run away?” She thought. She had become even more religious as if she truly was preparing to die.
It’s almost 8months since she was diagnosed and the frequency of dialysis required to keep up has increased. At every time she missed a session, she was forced to do one the next day to cure life threatening complication. If it’s not pericarditis, it’s pulmonary edema and lately, encephalopathy. Worst still, is the fact that every week, she’s greeted with the news of someone who just died from chronic kidney disease. And at some point, she invariably was just waiting upon death. Her last hope was to have a kidney transplant. But from where will $50,000 for a possible kidney transplant in India come from? “It was not going to happen.” She told her mum once.
She now lives a day at a time. Dr Afegbua got involved and wrote to the church and the bank to come to Jane’s aid. The bank never turned their back on her. She was definitely loved by her superiors. At intervals, she will be ferried in the ambulance to her bank branch just so they could see her, hoping they could whip up some sympathy for her. It was working, as all hands stayed on deck to help raise the money. However, the cost of transplant only was what the bank had agreed to provide and all that was left was overcoming the bureaucratic hurdles. But Jane would still be needing cost of logistics which included transportation for herself, her mum, and the possible donor brother. Of course, the issue of the compatibility of the donor with her still hangs on, as only preliminary test could be done in her home country at the time. The prospective donor must first get to India before compatibility can be conclusively confirmed.
The time was 9pm on a Sunday and Jane who had a session of dialysis in the morning, again was rushed in. She’s had pulmonary edema (fluid in her lungs) and she’s unable to breath. She was immediately placed on oxygen while she’s prepared for another dialysis session. For the first time since her ordeal, she fell into coma and everyone knew this may be the end. Efforts to resuscitate her continued. By Monday morning, she was out of the machine but remained unconscious. Jane’s family members were devastated and confused. They have seen it happen too many times, in this same hospital emergency unit, kidney patients have breath their last right in their faces and they have helped console relatives sometimes. For them, there was nothing you could say, their own time to mourn may have come.
Her mother managed to pick the phone and it was Jane’s branch manager. He’s called to inform them that the sum was already in her bank account. For a moment it appeared like the obvious; it came too late. She went straight to see Dr Afegbua, informed him that the promised money has come and enquired about Jane’s fate.
Dr Afegbua managed to conceal his worries and at least kept up her hope. For three days, Jane went in and out of the machines and remained in coma. Eventually at 10pm of the Wednesday after she fell into coma, the dialysis nurse observed she progressively had become light and at the mention of her name, she began to respond with murmur. It was like a miracle even to the hospital staff. Dr Afegbua could not hide his joy as she came out of unconsciousness completely by the next morning.
The church too was further encouraged by her resilience and of course termed it a miracle. The donations during the next Sunday service came in droves. She was brought to church on this day for whatever it’s worth.
In 2weeks, Jane was in India with her mother and younger brother. Their next wish and prayers were simple. May their compatibility test not be negative. They have been told stories of persons who got there with prospective donor and it turned out they were not compatible. “God forbids!” Jane thought.
On evaluation of Jane and her brother the day after they arrived, the doctors in India concluded she didn’t have much time and went on straight to do the compatibility test. The wait for the results began and the apprehension was very palpable especially for Jane’s mother. Meanwhile, she’s been booked to go in for a dialysis session deemed necessary to keep her in optimum condition before surgery and just before they will take her, she noticed she’s began menstruation.
That usually worsens her anaemia but she thought that should not be a problem anymore, since they were here already. She needed sanitary pads. She requested from the nurses who then told her relatives they could get in a grocery shop just down the road. Jane’s brother hurried to go get it but the mum also followed behind unknown to him.
Caleb was only 23-year-old and full of life. He was perpetually their source of strength. He had remained confident that his sister was going to get out of this. He volunteered as a donor even before he was asked. He read whatever he could find to learn about her sister’s condition and her chances.
As he hurried on, his mum looked at him with so much admiration and quietly whispers her wishes, that his efforts not be in vain. Right in front of her eyes as he crosses the non too busy road, his mum could see the car approaching and wondered why he had gotten on the road and for a split second, she hoped he would make it to the other side. It appears he thought the car was going to slow down but no, it didn’t.
She collapsed, as bystanders hurried to the scene to see the severity and to help if need be. For her, the son who was well and came from over 10,000 miles to help the sister stay alive, has just been killed. What then is there to live for?
It was indeed a fate worse than death.