Posted in Healthup with GJ

Another good man.

In my first general surgery posting, we had a patient who was Hepatitis B positive.

The ideal type of patient, with 100% compliance.
Though I did not clerk him, a few unit members did and they had zero hitches.

For the first few rounds we made to his bedside he always had a smile on his face.
A few more days and he’d lost his spark. I remember the sad smile he wore drooping at the edges.

He was in pain.

With a bloated abdomen (due to an enlarged liver) swollen feet and legs, he was the image of helplessness. My humanity would not let me wake him when I went to clerk him, but his ears probably picking strange sounds signaled his eyes and they fluttered open, his eyes, yellowed from jaundice smiled instead of his lips.

“Doctor.” His lips moved but no sound escaped. To save him the effort I said “I wanted to ask a few questions, Sir, but I’ll come back tomorrow. Please rest.” I smiled for two and left his bedside, pausing for a moment to make small talk with his sister who came visiting.

He was a good man.
Christian. A school teacher. He didn’t deserve to suffer she said. I assured her the doctors would do their best.
I didn’t know that’d be the last time I’d see him. The next day he was transferred to another unit. Our consultant said the recent findings necessitated a transfer to medicine. It was not a surgical case.

A week later, after Chem. Path. class, my friend, V., the UCTH gist plug jogged up to me as we headed for practicals.

“Ehhe, Glory, do you know that man is dead?” not wanting to stand for another two hours I moved faster. “Which man, mbok?” “The cancer man na.”
I froze in my tracks, thankfully we were on a grass path.

“How? When?” then I remembered V. likes to joke so I hissed “don’t be joking with people’s lives like that.”
“But I saw them roll him covered towards the morgue this morning after ward rounds.”
Chills ran through my spine. How could he die?

I cried when I returned to the hostel for several reasons.

One of our consultants had mentioned that people from that village usually had tribal markings made at a tender age and this is a risk factor for Hep. B infection.

I was sad for another reason.

A registrar in my unit hinted off-handedly that if the current findings had been seen earlier and he’d been transferred to medical ward, maybe, just maybe, he might’ve survived.

It got me thinking. What if the doctor could, by discernment, know the exact disease cause and begin treatment, would he have survived?

I cried that night as I laid down to sleep for another preventable loss. Another good man lost to Hepatitis.

Until the day our “what if’s” are replaced with definite answers, let’s do our part to keep the scourge at bay:

📍Get tested. Get vaccinated.

📍Divorce the green bottle.

📍If you must eat out, ensure the environs are neat and clean.

You may not love yourself, but do it for those who love you.

And may Abba continually deliver us from evil.