BellaNaija seeks to share more human interest stories in 2015. We want to focus a bit more on the shared experiences of our readers. Moses Obroku sent us an email with the story of his ordeal after an accident on his way to work left him in the trauma ward for over a month. As he narrates his experience, he shares how he kept it together in the midst of the physical pain he endured.
We found his story poignant and we are grateful he shared it with us.
As dawn broke on Thursday February 24, 2006, it appeared like a normal day or so I thought; as I happily got ready for work which I only resumed two days earlier. If I had known how that day was going to turn out, I may never have left the apartment.
At the close of business that day, I left the office at airport road and made my way to Oshodi to board a non-stop bus to Ajah, to return home. I soon found an empty bus calling for passengers to my direction which I entered and promptly took the front seat.
As the now filled bus made its way towards the Third Mainland Bridge, the ride was smooth and things looked normal. When the driver started to ascend the bridge; at the intersection where the road forks towards Ibadan expressway to the left and Lagos Island to the right, he should move towards the right and continue on the bridge. I just started to think that the vehicle was too close to the kerb and… (I didn’t quite finish the thought) when everything happened in surreal slow motion in my mind. The driver violently hit the kerb with the left wheel, which made the bus travelling at about 100 km/per hour careened out of balance, fell on my side and continued sliding on the concrete highway till it spent its velocity and came to an abrupt halt right in the middle of the road. Fortunately, there was no other vehicle coming behind to run us over.
The noise of the crash was deafening. The windshield had shattered to a thousand places sending pieces of glass fiber everywhere. Metal had squeezed, seats were pushed into each other and there was silence for a fraction of a second before the cries, wailings, and screams emanated from all around as if people were zoned back into the present to confront the horrors.
It has often been said that people who have had near death experiences usually see their lives flash before them. It is true!
I must have been disoriented for a few moments until the noises started and I realized I was not pinned down. I came out of the vehicle through the space where the windshield used to be and sat by the kerb of the highway. It was when I tried to assess my situation to know if I sustained injuries or not that I discovered my right palm had been badly mangled. I could see my right index finger hanging by a shred of skin, the other fingers were also broken with gapping wounds; I could see the bones, ligaments and all the stuff that flesh used to cover. And there was blood! I remember it just kept pouring from my hand wetting the pavement in front of me.
I couldn’t tell if other passengers sustained injuries as well, seeing I was in a critical condition which was already raising a lot of concern at the scene of the accident. One sympathizer suggested I started walking to a nearby hospital. While we made our way towards the base of the bridge, the pain kicked in and it wasn’t just from my hand that it was coming from but all over my body. After walking about 300 meters, we got to a hospital at Bariga where the doctor that showed up almost immediately took one look at my injury and declared it too severe; suggesting that I needed to see a trauma surgeon right away. He referred me to the National Orthopedic hospital at Igbobi. I froze! It was then I realized the magnitude of my injuries. I became very afraid, because prior to that accident I had never been an in-patient in any hospital my whole life.
As the doctor made to leave after delivering his gloomy news, I suggested to him if I could at least get some medication for the pain that was shooting all over my body. He thought about it for a second and agreed, instructing a nurse standing by on what drugs I should be administered with. After making the upfront payment, I got the medication that gave me temporary relief from the pains; and sat by the reception area of the hospital to figure out how to get to the orthopedic hospital.
As I sat there wondering how I would get a taxi to Igbobi hospital, one gentleman who had just brought his daughter to the hospital came over to me and inquired what the matter was. After hearing my ordeal, he volunteered to ask his driver to take me to the orthopedic hospital. Before we left, he gave his driver some money to pay for whatever I may be required to and stay with me till my family members I had called showed up. I could not believe my fortune. Despite what anyone thinks about Nigerians, there are still a few good men around here. I managed to get his phone number before the driver and I set out.
When we arrived at the emergency ward at Igbobi hospital, I was put on a bed, even as a doctor soon emerged with a nurse and some kit, to stitch what parts of my hand he could. Just as I was beginning to think that okay, I was getting attended to quickly and efficiently, a government hospital may not be that bad after all, the power went out! Fear gripped my throat afresh. To my shock, the nurse casually whipped out her mobile phone and held it over my hand to give light to the doctor doing the suturing, even as they continued their subtle conversation under their surgical masks unfazed. Soon they were done, and swathed my hand in gauze.
The attending doctor on duty that night came to assess my injuries and told me frankly that my hand would not be the same again. While he could not guarantee what fingers they would be able to save, he was sure the index finger on my right hand was gone seeing it was barely hanging by a slice of skin and I had left part of its bones at the scene of the accident. The ring finger next to it was so severely damaged too, he could only hope it would survive.
I spent that night at the emergency ward, surrounded by accident victims of varying magnitude. Sleep would finally put me out of my misery even as I hoped the whole surreal event of the day was a bad dream from which I would wake up. It was the pains that woke me up the next morning, dragging me back to my shocking, painful reality. When the doctor from the previous night came to check on me, he removed the gauze covering my injury and found my index finger still hanging by the shred of skin had lost colour and turned a deathly grey. The ring finger next to it which was declared critical the previous day seemed to smile at me with a fuchsia colour promising to stay with me.
When I was finally admitted to the Mobolaji Bank-Anthony (MBA) ward 5 later that day, I was told I needed to supply my own water for immediate usage as the facility was lacking water at the time. My mouth dropped. How can a hospital not have water running for one moment? I asked no one in particular. Anyway, a family friend who lived nearby came to the rescue, sending her steward to bring some water for me. Mercifully, the ‘no water situation’ at the ward did not last long to my relief. As I lay on the hospital bed, the grimness of my situation started to set in, and with it heavy depression. Within a couple of days, the consultant in charge of MBA5, came around assessed my injuries and promptly scheduled me for two surgeries.
After some days at the ward, I fell into the rhythm of things there. Wake up, do personal hygiene, the nurses administer drugs, meals get served, injuries get cleaned up and redressed, sleep or interact with other patients or nurses/ receive visitors, lunch gets served, more medication is administered, dinner is served, medication, bed time and the cycle begins all over again the next day. I felt imprisoned by my body! When the day for my first surgery came, it was an open and shut matter. The surgical teams at Igbobi hospital are quite knowledgeable. I was put under general anesthetics so that by the time I woke up, the surgery was done.
With my right hand banged up, I resorted to doing everything with my left hand. Now that I think of it, it’s amazing what we can achieve when our survival depends on it. I even began to scribble with my left hand but soon gave up when my writing looked worse than that of a two-year old.
Soon after, the day for the skin graft surgery came. I was prepped and wheeled into the theatre again. I remember the anesthetician asking me to count down from ten with her. I cannot remember going beyond eight before losing consciousness. The next thing I knew was nurse Orugbo calling my name with her deep firm voice. Only in my drowsiness, it sounded like a call from the supernatural. When I woke up, as before the surgery was done. Only the pain from my left foot where skin had been taken to close up the extensive injury on my palm, shot to my head. Now I had my right hand and left foot in heavy plasters. It looked like things had to get worse first before they got better.
Back in the ward, I was given a crutch to aid my movement since I couldn’t put pressure on my left foot. My depression increased. Here was I, fresh from National Youth Service Corps, with a Law degree behind me as well; hitherto never admitted to any hospital but going through the whole works now. I began to reflect on the things we take for granted- safety, good health, mobility, sight, sound, two hands, two legs, sunshine, bird songs, family, friends and all the other excellent things about life.
On April 2nd after over one month of being hospitalized, I was able to hold a pen with great difficulty with my injured hand, and wrote ‘great is your faithfulness oh God my father…’ After forty days of being hospitalized, my hand had healed enough for me to be discharged. My left foot had healed nicely too, enabling me to drop the crutch. While I was glad to leave the hospital, I saw too many amputations among ward mates to leave me depressed for a long time afterwards.
Over the years, I have had cause to remember that lone- vehicle accident I was involved in nearly every day. I still feel some pains in my right palm from time to time. It must be the strung out nerves and misaligned bones. I have now become ambidextrous as I can effectively utilize my left hand as much as my right; while the only driver I completely trust is me. But then, I also thank God daily for allowing me to live through it all.
**Image used is not a reflection of Moses Obroku.
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Czuber