By Uchenna Ezenwa Akujobi
OK, there’s this sixteen year old girl. What’s that her name sef…uuhhhhmm? Well obviously I can’t tell you guys her name but for the sake of this post, let’s call her… emmmmm? Amaka, no, no, no Amaka is my sister’s name. Let’s call her Eva… mbanu! Eva is my pooch’s name. I’d call her Virginia. I have my reasons.
Now Virginia and I met last year, she came to see a doctor. She had malaria and we talked for so long. I had no other patients to see and the young lady was amazing. I liked her, partly because she was same age as my nephew, but besides age, they shared many other similarities. She was inquisitive, queried everything and wanted to know why this and why that. She had hunger for information and it was just captivating.
It was obvious she was a bright young lady. She spoke Queen’s English and she knew just about enough to not be a total waste of my time. Our long conversation was interrupted by a nurse who came in because she was wondering why it was taking me so long to finish with this patient. Before she left, Virginia asked for my number. Sixteen year old, totally harmless, against my better judgment, I gave her… my nurse was shocked and she said “hian! doc you, you dan get girlfriend oo”. We laughed and that was it.
Each time Virginia came around we’d have our usual long chat. I’d ask about school and she’d want to know all I know about Medicine. She’d call me, quite frequently, mostly to talk about health related issues. The calls got a little more frequent and soon, I knew from experience, that something was wrong. She’d call by 11:00 pm to ask how my day was and if I’ve had something to eat. Soon she started complaining I never return her calls.
Four weeks ago, she called me saying she was ill and wanted to know if I was on duty. I asked her to come right away. She came with her mum. She was stooling, vomiting, had a fever and malaise. After talking plenty, I filled out a lab form requesting for malaria parasites screen, a full blood count and some others… and yeah a pregnancy test. But before I called the lab, I asked my young friend:
Me: My dear, when was your last menstrual period?
Virginia: I saw it last month sir, this month it has not come.
Me: Is it possible you’re pregnant?
Virginia: No oo… I’m not, I’m a virgin.
Shey una dey see problem, who asked about virginity here now? Well, I went with my instincts and requested for the PT notwithstanding. I sent her home with some medications. She was to come the next day to see the lab results. Next day, she showed up early, I wasn’t on duty but she called. Curious to know how well she was responding to treatment, I came out to see her myself.
“How are you now my dear” I asked
Virginia: I’m much better now we thank God.
I opened her case note, the first thing that hit me was the pregnancy test result. I couldn’t control the anger within; when anger and disappointment mixes up, you feel something strange. My mother’s guardian Angel reminded me of the other lady from before, the one that almost put me in trouble so I called for a nurse to sit with Virginia and I… and then… ghen!! ghen!!!
Me: Virginia you’re pregnant! How could you be pregnant! You’re just 17!
Virginia fell off her chair to her knees and in fact eh words cannot describe the pain and outburst of emotions. She cried uncontrollably, she was rolling on the floor. Nurse went to hold her and console her. Me I was too angry with her to say anything, a ‘smart girl’, how could she? She managed to utter a few words amidst her tears. “Doc what do I do? Can you help me plssssssssss, Doc. plssssssssss…” she was crying, “My mother will kill me, hey! I’m finished…Doc. please you’ve to do something!!!”
I looked her dead in the eyes. I had many things to say like ” I can’t help you my dear, you brought this on yourself, what are you doing having sex at this age…” but pity, chia! Pity overshadowed my anger and I said “sweetheart don’t worry, I’d help you. Stop crying. Wipe your tears, let’s talk like we always do”
She sat up. Wiped her tears… Looking hopeful.
Me: First of, I’m really confused about how it is that a virgin is pregnant. I’ve only seen this in the Bible… abi you drink your own belle for water? You know you’re my friend, just tell me d truth.
“Sir I’ve a boyfriend” she said sobbing.
Me: Good! And you’re sleeping with him abi? Without protection?
Me: Do you’ve any idea how much risk you’re taking, I’ve told you so much about HIV, hepatitis and other STIs abi? Well, I’m sorry but we’d have to run a full serology so I can know how much help you really need before I start offering to be of any assistance. I quickly sent a fresh sample to d lab & lucky us, her serology was clear.
Me: So Virginia, you’re pregnant, count yourself lucky instead of crying. You could have contracted HIV or one of her business associates, you know what they say, children are gifts from God. God has just blessed you. You should be grateful.
Me: Now this is how I can help u. Hold your ear and listen. Funny but she held her right ear up. I almost laughed but then I remembered I was not retarded. This was serious.
“Abortion is illegal in this country, even if it wasn’t, I would never be a party to it mostly ‘cos it goes against my core beliefs. I can, however, help you by talking to your parents so they don’t kill you, getting you some good antenatal care and making sure you give birth safely when the time is right and being a godfather to your bundle of joy if you’d have me… but first you’d have to talk to your boyfriend and prepare him for fatherhood, that one, it’s only you that can do it.”
Virginia started crying again ooo …This time even louder than before… “I’M DEAD OOO, I’M DEAD OOO. …GOD HELP ME EEEEEEEE!!!” Trust me all 3 of us were in the consulting room. I asked the nurse not to console her anymore. Let her let it all out. So we waited for an hour or so, when she was done crying. She stood up and walked away.
“Doctor is that all you can do for me?” She asked as she turned to look at me just before leaving the room, Chie… I saw my nephew in her eyes, I could feel tears building up in my eyes but TAAA! If I hear say I shed one drop. I called her back just as she reached d door and I said “My dear. I’m sorry you have to go through this. I can only imagine how you feel, you still have a bright future ahead, God can never give you a burden you cannot carry. Don’t do anything stupid ok. This too shall pass. Let me know when you’re ready so I can talk to your parents.
As I retired to my living room, I couldn’t help but wonder whether it was partly my fault. I had so much time with this little girl, how was it I couldn’t see she was living such a reckless lifestyle at such a young age. I felt bad for the time I harshly asked her to stop calling me at inappropriate hours, I probably should’ve talked to her more. All the time I had to counsel her… Nna mehhnn, which kind life?
Next day I got a call from the hospital. I was told my little friend had come to see me again.
Virginia: Sir I am feeling better now, and just came for a check-up.
I looked at her and smiled. I thought to myself ‘even at such a young age, even with all that cry-cry, the “mother” in this young child wouldn’t hurt her baby”, we talked for hours. When I saw she could smile and laugh and not think the end of the world of her situation, I let her go home.
I was to see her in two weeks to repeat our PT and then plan towards Ante Natal Care registration, so you can imagine my shock when she was rushed in by her mom and brother last night. She was in shock & unconscious with the angel of death hovering around her. She had been bleeding for about a week and told her people she’s was seeing her period; though her mom suspected the abdominal cramps were unusual. As I examined her, you know those tears, the ones I held back the other time, well they were already all over my face. As her mom saw me crying she threw herself to the ground and started wailing “GOD OF PASTOR …………., DON’T LET MY DAUGHTER DIE!! JEESSUUSSS!!!…DOCTORRRR PLS DO SOMETHING… HEYYYYY! THEY’VE KILLED ME OOO”
I asked the nurses to take her away so I could work. It was 2:45 am. My little friend was still in there somewhere and I’d be damned if she crosses the line on my watch…she had a few minutes and so did I.
I’d finish this some other time.
Any similarity between any person in the above story and any other person living, dead or in between is surely a coincidence.
Uchenna Ezenwa Akujobi studied Medicine and Surgery in the University of Port Harcourt. He is a stock trader, a practicing doctor; and writing happens to be one of many things he is very fond of. He is passionate about sharing authentic and useful health information with the public in forms that are very interesting, easy to read and relate with. When not relating with humans he spends time grooming and raising his dogs.