To be honest, I do not remember much of everything that happened on day 2. Even now that I think back on it all, it felt like a haze. I remember struggling to sleep all night because there was a tight pain in my chest and I was just wide awake for most of the night. I remember being woken up by a nurse to check my vitals at dawn. It feels like waking up in a strange planet – a ward filled with strange men some coughing, some hunched over small bowls of water, menthol filling the ward. I remember feeling very sick while trying to make sense of how I ended here. Quite an overwhelming experience.
As all these happen, there’s a tightness in my chest, I am taking in air but it doesn’t feel like breathing. The air is not getting down the way it should, it seem to dissolve before it reaches my lungs. I plug my ears and begin to listen to some preaching to lift up my spirit. Then I drift away to sleep. I wake up to a breakfast I can’t eat around 9am. Fish stew, I can’t endure the smell of fish, let alone the taste. Unfortunately, I had come with no provisions whatsoever.
There is no tuck shop in the hospital and it is far away from the city, so getting anything was hard really. Of course, I knew we couldn’t have visitors. “You can call your people to bring whatever you might need but they won’t be able to enter,” Nurse Ewekeye had explained to us the previous day when we were ushered into the ward. “Use the intercom to call the Security Post so that they are aware that you’re expecting things from your visitors, they will collect whatever they bring on your behalf and it will be brought to you.” I had shrugged dismissively as she explained. I was in discomfort and none of what she said had meant much.
I had made a list of things I’d needed on Friday and sent them to a friend to get them for me, then I linked her up with another friend who’d help me drive her down to the hospital.
A big black man walks into the room and cheerfully greets everyone. My ears are plugged to my laptop – I am trying to watch a movie (my breathing had got better by that time). I will later find out that he is one of the physiotherapists at the Center. So we have physiotherapists around here? I think to myself. He moves from one patient to the next – sometimes just chatting with them and other times, helping folks stretch their muscles or administering simple bedside exercises to them. He seems to be a very friendly person.
He draws closer to my bed and I can sense his eyes piercing me. The man on the bed before mine is an old man, he attends to him, stretches his legs and asks him some questions, then he walks up to me, greets me and goes on to attend to the man on the bed next to mine – Mr. B.
When he’s done with Mr. B he walks back to me and strikes a conversation,
“If I make a guess, you’re a tech person right?”
I shake my head, my smile is buried underneath my nose mask.
“Then you must be a researcher – like someone in the academia,” he tries again.
I shake my head. He sinks into his own weight and looks keenly at me.
“You look like someone who is so drawn into himself and the way you’ve been staring at the screen, you seem to have a high concentration level,” he explained, unsolicited. “You look like someone who loves to read, I can see the Jeffery Archer on your side-table.” I nod and reply, “Yeah, I love to read. One last chance to guess what I do,” I say. My neighbours are curious now, they are seated up on their beds. “Maybe you’re a lawyer,” he says with resignation. I smile.
He asks me my name and how I am feeling. He notices that I didn’t eat my breakfast. “It is the fish,” I reply “I don’t eat fish.” He explains how sorry he is about that and how he is not in a place to launch a complaint about the feeding as he is just a physiotherapist there. “We used to have the powers to influence things like the meals that get served around here but not anymore, it is all determined from the top now.” He raises his hands into the air to show ‘the top’.
He asks me to rate the care I have been receiving, I tell him it’s too early as I hadn’t spent 24hrs yet. I like the man, he brings enough cheer into the room and I even though I have my discomfort, I am glad that people like him come around to infuse life and hope into the ward. The rest of the day goes on like a quick breeze, nothing significant happened; just sick men lying in bed. The convalescent ones are having conversations among themselves, we the weak are just hanging in there.
Day 2 ends with a major concern – the old, bald man. He has been pacing up. Last night, he chose to sleep on the corridor until we called the Conference room and nurses led him by the hand to the ward. On day 2, he stiffly paces up and down the ward, his tawny legs shaky – almost like dragging one foot after the other. He is not eating, he hasn’t taken his pills, and he has refused to have a bath.
Breakfast – Yam x fish stew
Lunch – Amala x Ewedu x ponmo x liver
Dinner – White Rice x meat