My name is Chidimma, and I am a nurse.
Also known as the ‘smily one’, I graduatedfrom the University of Nigeria Nsukka, and I love my profession, because it enables
me do what I love doing, which is caring for others! People depend on me for support, advice, encouragement and help; and
above all, my selfless sacrifice of my skills,knowledge, time, talents and professionalism saves, as well as restores wholeness and worth to lives-what more could I ask for?
I also love writing! My inspiration comes mainly from my numerous experiences as a nurse, especially as these experiences breathe and live- to me, of course!; and are a part of my life. I am going to allow you a peek into one of these experiences, and to allow you share my world, simply doing what I love doing- nursing! I have titled this experience of mine:
PUT TO REST THE FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN
It had been a busy day. The health centre had that buzzing sound peculiar to the honey bee in the process of honey production. The lingering aroma of sweat,antiseptic and medicine still hung slightly in
the air, and the overhead fan was responsible for the spread somewhat. A little child, who was still been given a ‘late- dose’ measles vaccine, sent up a piercing
cry as the needle pricked her skin indifferently, whilst performing its function. The child was hushed consistently by her mother and the attendant nurse.
Seated in the nurses’ station, I had finally come to the conclusion that I was spent.Dog-tired.
I had tried forcing my mind to think of some other function to carry out, but in alliance with my body, my mind hadalso decided it was tired. Talk about your
mind having a will of its own! Then I saw her. Or rather, them. Two young women. I suspected that both were in their twenties. The woman who I had first seen, was big. No. The word was huge. She walked with careless abandon and a tilt to her shoulders more like in a masculine stride. She seemed to be in
charge, as her right hand was placed slightly behind her on her counterpart’s arm, in a drag, urging her to follow along.
The other woman was small-no,not Chinhuahua-small, but she could be what one could term ‘average’ in height. She was a fair-skinned beauty, and had more
grace and feminity to her steps. Walking behind her huge counterpart, she was literarily been dragged inside the health centre. Her eyes kept scanning the corners of the health centre, more or less sending the message ‘What am I doing here?’ They both walked up to me. The huge one released her hand off her counterpart’s arm.
“Nurse, good evening”. The huge one said.
“Good evening and welcome. What can I do for you?’
The huge one leaned closer. Her large frame swallowed more than half the width of the table, and her scent enveloped me.”I need to talk to you in private”. She said, almost in a whisper. I smiled. I had had only a few of these ‘talking-in-private’ encounters, and most times, it was literarily nothing-merely fear
speaking.”Ok, let’s go somewhere private’I said, as I forcefully willed my dog-tired body to stand. I really was tired, but what else could I do? I took them to the
treatment room, which was ‘private’, as it was.
As we entered the treatment room, the fair-skinned one hesitated, and then in a hurried, shaky voice said “Ehm..nurse..I think will wait outside,i'd just wait outside till you’re done with Ify”. Ify, who was the
huge one, turned and gave a disapproving look.”Biko, Chinwe, what are you afraid of? Come let’s go in nah”
I smiled at both of them.”Don’t worry Ify, when I’m done with you, Chinwe’ll come in too. And so, leaving an undecided and frightened Chinwe outside, I and Ify entered the room.
Ify sat down from across me. After making a quick survey of the treatment room, to be extremely certain it was ‘private’ and ‘safe’, she blurted out “Nurse, I want to.know my HIV status”. Just that? Finally! I had initially wondered what had caused all the drama.
‘Ok,’ I responded in relief, ‘but is that the only thing?’
“Ehm..no ooo..Nurse, if I am HIV-negative, could I get a receipt?’
A receipt? Or maybe she meant a
laboratory result.“What for? HIV tests are free”.
“Nurse, the thing is, I and Chinwe are getting married in a month’s time, and we need to give these receipts-sorry, results to our husbands-to-be, as proof that we
are ‘safe’ sexually.” “Safe”, sexually? Little wonder the fright on Chinwe’s face!. “Would your husbands- to-be take this test?”
Ify gave a sarcastic laugh “For where? As far as they are concerned, they don’t need the tests, once they are ‘good-to-go’.
Please nurse, let’s do these tests now. I and Chinwe need to go somewhere else. But promise me you won’t tell anyone what the results are, not even Chinwe.”
I smiled. I cleaned the tip of her thumb with a cotton wool swab soaked in methylated spirit, and then, I pricked her thumb with the blood lancet.
“Ewo o! she shrieked in pain.
“Sorry. And I won’t tell anyone about your results”, I replied. “But we don’t give receipts or results, for HIV testing. So, I will. just tell you what your results are, and that would be all. While we waited for the results, I began counseling her on HIV, AIDs, mode of transmission, management of the disease, and all relating to the disease. I also insisted that her husband-to-be come for the tests, and that she needed to come
back after three months, for a re-test if her results were negative. And then I looked at the test strip, for the results.
“Nurse, what is it? Tell me ooo..am I going to die?”.I looked at her.“Ify, the results of
your test is out, and…”
“And what?” she shouted, as she rubbed her palms vigorously together, and grippedmy uniform.“Nurse, tell me if I’m going to die nah...tell me…”
“You are HIV-negative”.
The whole world seemed to stand still. And then, finally, Ify began to dance. She pulled me into an embrace, lifted me off the ground, and said ‘thank you, God bless you’, a number of times, before dropping me. Then she straightened herself, and with a renewed confidence and beaming smile, walked up to the door and literarily shouted “Chinwe fear fear, nurse dey call you oo”. I laughed.
“Don’t forget to come back after three months”, I called after her. I hoped she had heard me.
Chinwe timidly entered the treatment room, and after reassuring and counseling her, I carried out the same routine as I had done for Ify. When the results came out, she was also HIV negative. But she was more dramatic. She burst into tears, and started raining blessings on me. She danced and danced, and danced; and told me that she had been so scared because she had been promiscuous. Then she offered me some money in appreciation, which I politely declined. I counselled her on the ABC’s of sex; and reminded her to come back in three months time for a retest. Then I documented.
Finally, I saw my two patients/friends off, up to the gates of the health centre. They collected my mobile number, and promiseduto invite me specially to their weddings. And as I watched them walk away in confidence, I wondered what would have happened if any of them had turned up HIV-positive…
Your guess is as good as mine...disaster!
Thanks for been a part of my world, and watch out for THE NURSE’S DIARY NOTES!-