The thin line between life and death: The gory situation of Lagos health facilities

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Tunde Adeleke after taking the BP drug

By Comrade Babatunde Adeleke

Wednesday, July 7th started just like any other day. I had gone to visit a friend who recently returned from America on his farm, another friend came in from Ibadan to visit him too, we’ve been friends for over 35 years right from our days at FGC Ogbomosho. We joked and reminisced over our youthful days, nothing seems awkward, as to the calamity that was to befall me that same day. I left for home at about 2 pm.

Around 4 pm I started feeling funny around my throat and an hour later I discovered my tongue and jaws were swelling. I called the attention of my wife who just got back with the kids from school, she confirmed swells, I told her I had to go to the hospital that all was not well.

I first went to a private hospital around my house, and the young doctor I saw (couldn’t have been more than 28 years or so, definitely under 30), saw me. I had gone to see him like two weeks prior to that day because I wanted the hospital to cater for my family medical needs). So from the way, I spoke he knew something was definitely wrong. He advised I go to the general hospital for better treatment. Can you imagine!

I got to the general hospital around 8 pm and I was not attended to until 10 pm. The female doctor on duty asked me what my complaint was and I told her. She asked if I was on any medications to which I responded in affirmative.

Friday penultimate to that day, I had gone to check my blood pressure and it was very high 167/122. The equally young doctor I saw about the same age as the one I saw at the private hospital prescribed some drugs,
1.Amlodipine besylate usp 10mg

  1. Amcard 10mg
  2. No stress 5 mg.

I started taking the drugs from that day, 2nd July and no side effects. She asked if I took any herbal drink and I said I took action bitters when I went to see my friend, and we all drank it together. She said that could be the cause and that I was not about to have a stroke.

My BP had gone down to 140/97, which was a relief that a partial stroke was out of the equation, which has been my fear right from home because I had read many articles on stroke and the way my tongue was feeling, my heart was in my mouth from panic.

She prescribed some drugs Prednisam and loratadine (hope I got the spelling right). I could no swallow the pills because by then my tongue had increased like 5 times the normal size, and was about to completely block my oesophagus. I had to use my index finger to push them through, after like 30 minutes with no relief still, the doctor had said I was free to go home, but I decided to hang around, by 1 am I still didn’t feel any relief and was having difficulty breathing, so I went back to d same doctor to complain. She saw my situation and said I needed to be admitted and given oxygen.

So I called my wife and told her what to do in case I don’t make it. I saw my life shrink before my eyes, Every moment from my childhood flashed before me in a jiffy. I summon the courage and told the doctor I was ready, then came the ultimate shock, no available bed space to lie me down and administer oxygen! I could not believe my ears. So what do I do, I was probably on my last energy to even speak. She said I would be referred to general hospital Gbagada, that they will have enough space there. I pleaded that I would manage a chair, she said it was against the hospital policy.

By this time the referral letter was ready.
My wife chattered a taxi and we headed for Gbagada which was like over 20 kilometres away if I’m not wrong. Through the journey to Gbagada, I kept on praying for a miracle as my condition was getting worse. Then the worst happened, about a kilometre from the hospital the taxi broke down, I was almost unconscious, as soon as I realised what was happening, I got out of the taxi, the guy said he couldn’t explain what happened. I told my wife to pay him, and before my wife could realize what was happening I was already jogging in the direction of the hospital. The time was around 2:30 am.

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I jogged as fast as I could, I can’t die like this I assured myself, even I would, at least I would try. Through the dark expressway, under d Iyana Oworo bridges, my wife also an athlete jogged as fast as our legs could carry us. The phobia from fear of attack from hoodlums under the bridges was further fuelled by what we witnessed at the Ikorodu general hospital. Four patients were rushed in, one was dead, another unconscious, while the remaining three sustained serious injuries. They were attacked by hoodlums around 8 pm in Ogolonto area by hoodlums who sprung on them as they were returning from work.

We arrived at the emergency ward at Gbagada and after passing the main gate, only for the security at the emergency ward to refuse opening the gate for us, we pleaded that it was an emergency and I was gasping for breath, to my astonishment a doctor came out and said there was no available bed space! Ooh dear, not again!!!! He said there was nothing they could do to help me. No even to check my status, he said our best option was LUTH Idi araba. By now my wife saw the frustration and anger on my face and started screaming that we leave the place before it was too late. I obliged.

We chattered yet another taxi to LUTH. At LUTH again another young doctor came out from the emergency ward, they said it was protocol for the patient to remain in their car and be diagnosed to ascertain it’s not covid 19. After listening to my complaints, he said, unfortunately, there was no bed space! My wife screamed!

Alternatively, he said the only bed space they had was for 50,000 per night, if I was well I would have thought my wife brought me to a five-star hotel to have fun. I couldn’t believe my ears. By this time, I had started to feel a little movement in my tongue, meaning the last prescription must be working, against the prescribed dosage, I took doubled dose and waited for the worst to happen. An hour later, my tongue which was as hard as stone started turning soft. And by 4 am, I felt better. I told d taxi to take us home. On getting home I told them to make hot pap for me and I took yet another dose.
By 7 am. I was much better as if nothing had happened. Little did I know it was the BP drugs that cause my predicament, since the doctor said I should not miss a day, I took the normal dose as I was going to bed. B

By the next morning, I looked like a monster from Hammer house of horror! My mouth, jaws. Cheeks, nose excluding my tongue were terribly swollen, I could hear one of my young daughters asking her seniors why daddy looked like a monkey, I couldn’t laugh, then I realised it must be the BP drugs. I quickly took the antidote that worked on d tongue without panicking or going to the hospital and decided to relax. It worked, so I stopped taking the BP medication.

Now matters Arising; it is obvious that Lagos state lacks adequate medical facilities to cater for its citizens, besides there is no synergy or coordination between the health workers or facilities. How could there be no bed space in three big hospitals when we have no pandemic emergency? Why cant they have a central phone number to call and ascertain the availability of bed space before referring emergency patients? Then, what kind of doctors are we producing in Nigeria? Shouldn’t they have counselled me about d drugs before prescription? Or at least warn me of what might happen if I take them. Both private and public hospitals are filled with young inexperienced doctors who keep performing experiments with people’s lives.

Lagos state has the wherewithal to build more hospitals with the mammoth resources at its disposal. For Christ’s sake the IGR of Lagos alone is that of 30 states put together, how can this be happening? Social infrastructures should be built according to population growth.

The government is not building more hospitals to cater for its populace which is growing geometrically. The same applies to roads, people are buying cars every day but the government is not building new roads. What they do is maintain the old ones occasionally or not at all in most Instances. That explains why we spend hours on end to get to a destination that ordinarily should not take more than a maximum of one hour. By now we should be talking of constructing a 6th mainland bridge and not 4th.

If Lagos state was being run by a Fulani man, the media would have been agog with criticism of why things are not working, but it is a Yoruba man that is at the helm of affairs. How much does it cost to build a stand hospital? The best hospital in America does not cost up to $1b. That’s a chicken fee for Lagos state.

My appeal to Lagosians is to please strive to live a prudent life and avoid any indulgences that will warrant going to the hospital because there is no help there.

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