I awoke groggily and sat up in bed. “Where the hell am I?” I asked no one in particular. The curtains to the left side of the huge bedroom glowed brilliantly with the effect of the golden sun rays.
“Ahrr”, I said, holding my forehead which was throbbing horribly. “Headache! I need coffee”.
I was lucid enough to understand that I was in my room — on my bed and I shuddered as I recollected the events of the last 22 hours.
It had been a tasking surgical procedure; performing a hemispherectomy on Victor Oladejo — one of our patients at the neurology department of Eden hospital — who had a cancerous brain tumor that kept reoccurring. I sighed deeply again, remembering the bloody sight of Victor’s head after Dr. Atwenkpum, the Ghanaian surgeon, had performed craniology on him. That had come after Dr. Oluka had done a physical exam, carried out a blood test, performed a neurology exam — which, usually, is the most stressful step for the patient — and finally, successfully completed an MRI scan.
Dr. Atwenkpum had pressed a button on the medical saw he held in his left hand and the machine had come awake, vibrating with glee as the blade spun ominously. It took only some seconds for one of Victor’s cranial sutures to go slack. I had spared Atwenkpum a disturbed glance as he transferred the saw to his right hand with very composed mien and glittery eyes! Less than 20 seconds later, Victor’s brain was visible, shining confidently under the glow of the powerful halogen lights. Dr. Atwenkpum took out a ball of cotton wool and wiped at the blood on the sides of Victor’s brain and the speckles of blood on his surgical apron, then he pulled down his nose mask and took off his latex gloves.
“Victor is a good boy”, he said and smiled. “The anaesthesia knocked him out cold. Always hits differently”.
I looked at Dr. Atwenkpum’s yellow teeth which glittered as he smiled broadly and thought if it would be easy to perform an orthognathic surgery on his crooked jaws. “It is your play now, Jake”, he said and patted my back.
“It is Messidinho”, I thought but said nothing as I wore my surgical gloves and raised my nose mask and got set to perform a dura-mater on the patient with Dr. Atwenkpum and Dr. Oluka passing me the surgical tools. We continued progressively as I continued meandering my way, cutting tissues, avoiding nerves and veins and deciding which capillary gets cut. We had worked for 20 hours, taking a five-minute break every three hours.
The surgery had been successful and we had left the nurses to clean Victor up. I had driven home thereafter and got right into bed.
I looked at the rays shining towards my study table and sighed, trying to push the grotesque image from my mind.
I got up from the bed and moved lethargically to the bedside cabinet where I took hold of Acetaminophen and popped two pills into my mouth. I made my way to the kitchen to get my coffee ready. As I moved, I munched on the pills in my mouth. I had no way of knowing if they were bitter or not. Nothing really interested me — nothing had since I lost Leila.
I became a single father after Natasha dumped Leila on my doorstep and eloped with a rich politician about six years ago. I had been in the university, trying to bag my degree as a neurosurgeon at the time.
It had been Leila’s third birthday and we were getting back from Mr. Biggs where I had taken her to have a fun time. The ride had been smooth with Leila bantering above the music blaring from the car speakers while I teased her. It was then that the back left tire of my car had blown up and I lost control of the vehicle. I had made it out alive with only a concussion on my head but Leila hadn’t.
I took a gulp of my steaming coffee, relishing its richness. The throbbing in my head had subsided and I was glad to be feeling more alive.
My phone rang then and I moved towards my room with my mug of coffee, certain it would be Remi. I chuckled when I saw the name displayed on the screen of my Samsung S-ultra — “Rasta”.
“Rasta! Your call is six minutes late today”, I said picking up the call and smiling when I heard Remi’s carefree laughter.
“Yo, paddy!” Remi said. “You know how we roll, don’t ya?! We gotta keep them damsels’ spirits high. Had a few calls to make before six — Veronica, Tiffany and Julie”. He paused and laughed. “ You are Messidinho and you know these things”.
“That’s child’s play, Remi”, I said and sipped from my mug. “ You of all people know I don’t fish that way”.
“So, how was the surgery yesterday?” He asked. “You said something about hemo…”
“Oh, yeah! I get. Whatever man!” He said. “I ain’t no doctor. So, tell me the nigga ain’t crazy already with only half a brain in there”. I chuckled and Remi chuckled too.
“It doesn’t happen that way, Remi. The other section of the brain quickly makes up for the missing hemisphere”.
“Oh yeah, yeah, I get it! Hard luck for missing biology class. Look man, I gotta go. This grumpy boss of mine just walked in”.
“Listen, Remi! Seriously, you need to consider getting another job!” I said, visibly annoyed but Remi laughed loudly, carefree and with a slightly mocking tinge.
“This is what I do best, paddy and it pays well — well enough to take care of me and the girls. You go be a doctor and saw open people’s heads!” Remi teased and ended the call.
I threw my phone on the huge bed carefully and glanced at the full-length mirror to the right of the bed. Taking a sip from the mug, I ran a hand across my jaws, feeling my stubble.
“I need a shave”, I thought and with that, I gulped down the rest of the contents in the mug and made my way to the bathroom. I ran my cheek over with some shaving foam before using my miniature cordless clipper to shave.
I was done cleaning up when my phone began to ring. I hurried back to the bedroom and picked up the call.
“Hello, Doctor!” A sweet voice said. “I hope I have not awoken you. This is nurse Albertha and there is an emergency here at Eden hospital”.
“What’s the situation?” I asked calmly.
“A patient — Becky Ajayi, 31 years, who is currently receiving a cannula due to advanced dehydration — has been diagnosed, after an MRI scan, of having Glioblastoma — a malignant brain tumor which seems to be pushing on vital nerves in her brain. The patient was brought in unconscious and it is assumed that cancer has progressed exponentially. I’m afraid Becky Ajayi would need surgery as soon as possible, Doctor!”
“Okay, nurse”, I said. “I’ll be there in a jiffy”.
I whistled softly after the call. Glioblastoma was the worst form of cancer that could affect anyone and chances of one surviving it without getting into a persistent vegetative state were always slim.
I dressed hurriedly in chinos trousers and a white shirt, all the while trying to recollect successful surgeries, which I had read, had been carried out on patients with Glioblastoma.
I took my Lamborghini car keys and headed for the garage where my black baby was — oh yeah! The journey to the hospital was smooth, with me going at 70KMpH.
Nurse Albertha was at the entrance of the hospital when I arrived, obviously waiting to walk me to the ward. As we moved, she briefed me on the patient and I too had taken my time to analyse her. She had a nice chocolate complexion, an elfin face, two bulbous mounds on her chest, adventurous broad hips and sleek straight legs. As she spoke, I couldn’t help but notice her white dentition and cute lips which, I presumed, had been all glossed up and I thought, rather naughtily, that I wouldn’t mind having her.
“So, you are saying the patient got transferred here from Apex-Health hospital?” I asked her, just to keep her talking and yeah, she did go into another lecture. I smiled, lightly, at the lilt in her accent that made her sound British.
“Fake British accent and glossy lips?” I thought to myself and smiled again.
Ward 9 was cool and spacious, an opaque glass room that was almost vacant but for a lone bed to the side of the wall and some beeping machines. A light-skinned patient lay calmly on the bed, asleep, and as we drew nearer, I was awestruck!
The lady on the bed was the most beautiful creation I had ever seen and I had quickly taken off my medicated glasses to have a proper look. Even under the white sheets, her form was visible — well pronounced; the rise and fall of her mammary glands and the expansions that indicated her hips. I had watched the cannula drain itself into an arm I could lick all day and I got slightly upset. I licked my lips and spared a glance at nurse Albertha.
“Get me the patient’s folder and I would want every other information I could get, both personal and medical records. Bring them to my office”, I said and bounded out of the ward, leaving Albertha nodding.
I hurried out because I couldn’t stand seeing such a beauty in that condition. Doctors are trained to be emotionally detached from their patients and it was something I had mastered being a playboy but a few minutes ago, I felt my heart reaching out to Becky and I fearfully realized that I had unconsciously made up my mind to do everything possible to help her.
“No! Not good!” I thought and shook my head. Love never happened to Messidinho, especially not love at first sight! “Who the hell are you, Becky Ajayi?” I asked the air.
Albertha had brought me the file containing information about Becky and as I skimmed through it, a knock sounded on my door and a man walked in.
“I guess you are Dr. Jake”, he said, making himself comfortable in one of the chairs. “I am Chukwuebuka, Becky’s ex-boyfriend. You can call me Cmoni; as in “See money”, he elucidated and laughed while I stared at the unsightly gap created by his missing lower-left incisor.
“You see, I have money — plenty of it! It is a pity that Becky never realized that. Well, all that is past now. I hear she needs surgery. What figure are we looking at?” He asked finally and adjusted the collar of his white shirt.
I focussed on the reflection of the fluorescent on his shiny, black forehead and realized there were so many things “off” about him. I thought of craniology surgery for his huge and irregular head, buccal reduction surgery to decrease his cheek mass, an artificial tooth to replace the missing one and a rhinoplasty for his crooked nose.
“The surgery is 10 million naira”, I said flatly. “You are expected to make a deposit of 7 million before we can commence”.
“What?!” Cmoni bellowed. “Where do I get that kind of money?!”
“You search for it”, I said unfeelingly. “ You are Cmoni, aren’t you?”
“I am but -”
“No buts!” I snapped, cutting him off. I was tired of having his beastly face in my office. “Just search for the money, okay”. I said gesturing to the door. Cmoni got up and left, shaking his bald head.
I, Dr Oluka and Dr Atwenkpong assembled at the theatre that afternoon. I had decided to pay the bills for Becky’s surgery as there was no one else to reach. Becky had been prepped up and both doctors had performed craniology while I got myself ready. I dived in thereafter and after about 24 hours of surgery, I had extracted 30 grams of cancerous tumors. We had wrapped up and let the nurses clean her up.
Becky’s recuperation after the surgery was amazing and with each passing day, I discovered that I was getting deeply attached. We never heard from Cmoni, though. Six months flew past and I knew I would need to discharge Becky Ajayi. We had become so close that the staffs had begun to notice and obviously, had started to put two and two together.
I sped my Ferrari up the grassy hill with Becky sitting beside me. She was laughing at a joke I had made.
It had been about six months after I had had her discharged from the hospital and she was looking all glowed up and extremely beautiful. We’d also gotten really close and I so much wanted to take things to the next level.
We had settled on one of the hills with green grasses that had recently been trimmed. As we took in the sights and enjoyed each other’s presence, with the wind caressing us, I turned to face Becky.
“Becky, since I met you, life has been amazing. I now have so much to look forward to. I want this to last forever”. I said and watched her glow. I took out a box and extracted a diamond ring. “Will you marry me, Becky Ajayi?” I asked.
She was ecstatic as she screamed the yes and I knew it was going to be a journey of peace and fulfillment. Love indeed exists — even for Messidinho.