October 2017 I had an emergency surgery after a speaking engagement. I was fine all along until the attack that triggered the surgery. I was 319 kilometers away from my family- that’s about 5:45 minutes drive across 3 or so states before I would get home. In my immediate space was my friend, and many other ‘new friends’ I met during the event.
I would be having surgery in a faraway land without any family member in sight, but for my friend, and maybe, a few acquaintances.
I never felt any pains.
Never did I notice anything out of place.
I was okay. But in a moment, everything flipped- I was in serious pains, cramped in my hotel bed like I was in serious menstruation pains. My hotel room suddenly became a makeshift sick bay. The ‘very important guest’ from Lagos that lodged in the hotel as a vibrant and healthy young man, had become like a patient in an Intensive Care Unit.
Things escalated very quickly. I would have placed a bet that it was a dream. But not only was is it not a dream, it was a horrible nightmare that just wouldn’t cease. By the next morning, the nightmare had become full-blown; reality was staring right at me. Self-medication had failed to alleviate the pains. The services of a doctor would have to be engaged.
I visited a private hospital on the recommendation of one of my new acquaintances. Minutes later, we were at Patel Hospital. After brief examination, it was clear I wouldn’t be traveling back to Lagos without having a surgery. It still shocks me till date how that nothing pointed to the battle that was going on within me.
The next day, I would be going under the knife. My friend was afraid for me, and terrified about signing the document that will absolve the hospital and staff if I didn’t make it through the surgery. It was as if my friend was going to sign my death warrant. It was a difficult assignment for someone who doesn’t want to see you slip away.
Surgeries in Nigerian hospitals can sometimes put a sh*tload of fear in you. Particularly, when the doctors keep repeating- it is a 50:50 thing. What terrible words to say at a vital crossroads in one’s life!
In my pains, and of course, confused state, I realized how difficult that was. This was between life and death. If I didn’t make it the regret will live for a lifetime. Don’t ever pray to find yourself in that space where you have to serve as surety between a case of life and death. It’s really scary I must say. I called the doctor and mentioned to him that I would sign that document. I would be surrendering the affairs of my body, and potentially, my life to stranger-doctors and nurses in a faraway land.
If I die, I die.
If it was to be this way, then let the transmutation process begin. I dared fear and death. To me, death had nothing on me.
In few hours the surgery would begin. I wasn’t afraid of death from surgery failure as I was with the fear for those left behind; the unfinished mission, the statistic that would be made of me if I didn’t make it through. I caught up on past memories-the good, the bad and the ugly. At points like this, you begin to recall and appreciate every moment you ever have experienced and lived for.
I thought about the comments of social media friends/acquaintances that I would never be able to read and the candlelight procession in honor of the deceased that I wouldn’t attend. ‘He was nice guy, ‘we will miss you’, ‘he was such a blessing’, ‘tell me it’s not true’, ‘I remember when I met him’,’it’s a dream, ‘you mean he’s no more?’
I also thought about the negative stories that would have been peddled.
‘If only he had remained in Uyo’, ‘he shouldn’t have traveled in the first place’, ‘once he left his spiritual covering he was exposed to the devil’s attack’, ‘his village people couldn’t reach him in Uyo so they waited for him to leave his spiritual cover’
You know those tales that people tell when unfortunate things happen to both good and bad people?
Such is life.
The estimated one hour surgery took about five or so hours. At this point there was no me, I remembered nothing, wasn’t in existence or conscious of anything. It was as though I had already gone.
My friend was at the other side of the theatre door- oscillating back and forth in the walkway, making frantic calls to my folks back home. The doctor had said the exercise was going to last only 45 mins. But not one of medical personnel in the theatre showed up after 45 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours and counting. Fear struck; frenzied by the lack of feedback- tears rolled down the cheeks of my friend.
Exactly 1:30 am I opened my eyes greeted by the harsh lights in the theatre. There was no one in space. I was in my real state of nature as I was as a new born. I couldn’t move, I was weak. I had my last meal over twenty-four hours ago. In the next three or so days I wouldn’t have any meal or drink. Apart from the surgery itself, those three days were the longest days of my life I was on compulsory medical fast. What a torture that was!
I was again back to life.