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“Why I Hope My Doctor Is Off Having a Cup of Tea”

DR BOIMA
HEALTH ISSUES


The best news to ever come out of the internet this week is a story by a British blogger named Jodie Hardwick, which can almost bring one to tears. I could not have said it better.
The insults, swearing and treatment we, health professionals sometimes suffer at the hands of those who have come to seek help from us (and those we sacrifice a lot for) is uncalled for. Ironical! The abuse is even worse in Government health facilities. In my observation, trying to explain why the doctor is late or absent at a particular time or place where they are expected yields more insults from the ‘stable’ mob waiting.

Doctors every day throughout the world are being scolded for being away handling an emergency somewhere, for taking a toilet break, for squeezing in a meal in their busy schedule, for being on the phone seeking clarity or second opinion about a patient. If everyone could appreciate just one good thing a doctor has ever done for them like this lady and try not to let impatience run away with their rationality, the world would be a much better place to live. It is called appreciation! Below is Jodie’s testimony.

“The other day, I was in a hospital waiting room waiting for an ultrasound appointment. There was a couple next to me, and they were not happy. Apparently, as the whole waiting room were finding out: their doctor was running late. After sighing repeatedly, getting up to ask the receptionist about 14 times how long they would be and talking very loudly about how 'f***ing useless [the medical staff] all are', the man turned to me, as if somehow we were kindred spirits, and said "forty f***ing' minutes late! You know fully well they're all just in there having a cup of tea or faffing about with paperwork.

You can't possibly be running forty minutes late at ten thirty in the morning". He looked at me and waited for me to agree with him and join in the ruthless slander on the National Health Service (NHS). I shrugged "Well, I certainly hope so" I said, before turning back to the seven year old copy of Heat I had found (did you know that Katie and Peter have split up?).

Realizing that he had not found his new BFF, the man went back to moaning loudly to his disinterested girlfriend, and didn't press me on whether I had just said what he thought I'd said. But I did say it, and I did hope it. I did hope that his doctor was off surfing Facebook or 'faffing about' with paperwork.
I'll explain.

When I was 27 weeks pregnant with the youngest baby H, I was at a family party when I started bleeding. A lot. After screaming for my husband, both he and my Mum rushed me to hospital. I rang on the way, bordering on hysterical, and was told by a kind and efficient midwife to come straight to the delivery ward where they would be waiting for me. They were, as I walked through the doors, a doctor and several midwives were there waiting, and rushed me in to triage without wasting a second.

As I lay on the bed, crying and waiting to hear that we had lost our precious unborn baby, I was introduced to our doctor, Elizabeth, who immediately tried to find our daughter's heartbeat. Within minutes someone had located a scanner and she was able to show us that she was still alive in there. In a ridiculous blur of activity, I was checked over, attached to a monitor and told a flurry of information that I didn't hear a word of. All I did hear is that there was a large possibility that they were going to need to deliver that night.

When a sudden extra gush of blood came, I was rushed in another room where I was then attached to a drip, and a number of other medically things that to this day I can't remember what they all were. Within half an hour of stepping foot through the doors, on a Saturday night, I was introduced to a stream of medical professionals: an anesthetist, someone from NICU, and more doctors and nurses.

I couldn't really take any of it in, but I knew our situation was dangerous and they were doing everything they could to keep me and my tiny baby safe. That same night I was given steroids for the baby's lungs, magnesium to protect her brain, and was monitored non-stop for 24 hours.

Long story short, they didn't need to deliver that night. The bleeding stopped and it emerged that the baby was OK. We weren't totally out of the woods, but for now we were going to be OK. I was kept in for five days, three of which I was on 24 hour monitoring, with a midwife in our room at nearly all times and checks being done hourly. After six days, I was allowed to leave. A bit shaken up, but ok.

We were told that no-one could be sure whether it would happen again. I would need to go for extra scans for the rest of my pregnancy to monitor the baby and me, but potentially that could be the end of it until we delivered. It wasn't. Two weeks later I bled again, luckily much lighter, but it still called for another three day admission. I was let out, only to be back in two days later, and so it continued. In total I was admitted and let out again seven times.

During our multiple stays in there, we were treated by a steady of doctors, midwives and care assistants. When my husband wasn't there when I was taken in on our third bleed, one of the midwives didn't go for her tea break and held my hand whilst a doctor checked me over. I was allocated a consultant, a very cool German, Boris Johnson-esque man who was straight talking but made me laugh.

He explained that the reason they weren't delivering was because our baby was safe, and showed no signs of being affected by all of it, so for now she was safer inside me than out. Every time I was admitted, he would come and see me several times to see how I was doing. No matter how many people needed him, and how busy he was, he would come and see me.

On the fifth (perhaps, who knows at this point) admission, the bleed that had led me to be in there again had been heavy, and I was starting to lose faith. I started telling myself that no matter they were saying, our baby was not going to be OK. No one could bleed this much and still be ok. I felt like shit, and I was on the verge of totally falling apart.

One of the doctors in my consultant's team, Eli, came in just doing the normal rounds that they did every day. I don't know whether she just is like this to everyone, or whether she could see I wasn't handling it so well anymore. But instead of the usual two minute run through of what was going on, the same polite smile and then leave, she stayed for ages and told me things were going to be OK.

She explained why the baby really was safer inside, and what was going to happen. She stayed and answered a thousand questions and didn't leave until I was done. She didn't tell me that she had a million more important things to do and that I was wasting her time.

When it was decided that I would eventually deliver, at 35 weeks, my midwife spent her break finding me ice because I kept saying how much I needed it. Eli, the same Dr as before, supervised the whole thing and came in throughout my labor to check if I was doing OK because she knew I wasn't. When my waters had to be broken and it was uncertain whether I would start to bleed again and need an emergency section, a team of specialists were outside our hospital room to jump into action just in case.

Here's the thing: none of those people 'had the time'. When I came in, bleeding and terrified at 27 weeks, no doctors or midwives would have been scheduled on purely to keep my baby alive. As a result of preventing me from bleeding to death, another patient was probably kept waiting for Elizabeth. 

Somebody's scheduled C-Section was probably held up whilst it was determined whether my 27 week old fetus needed to be delivered. No midwives would have been timetabled to stay at my bedside constantly to make sure things didn't go downhill.

When I was not holding it together, Eli probably didn't have the time to sit and answer a thousand of my irrational questions. Someone was probably rude to her as a result of being kept waiting because of me. Someone was kept waiting because my consultant was making the decision that delivering my baby was the safest way of making sure she survived.

Since talking to other people about my time in NHS, I have been inundated with stories of the same nature. My friend went for a scan on her twins to be told one had passed away. Her sonographer stayed with her for 45 minutes while she cried and waited to be told by a doctor what was going to happen. Her appointment would have been scheduled to be 15 minutes long.

A client of mine, who had lost a baby previously, told me how her community midwife cancelled everything when she went in to labor early when her husband was overseas with the military and had no-one there with her. When another friend was told she had cancer, her GP didn't tell her that her ten minutes was up and she needed to stop crying and leave his office so that his next patient wasn't kept waiting.

I am certainly no expert on the NHS, and I have no valid information when it comes to budget cuts. I know the increasing numbers of cuts are bad, and I know patients are missing out because of it. I know Jeremy Hunt is trying to blame much of the failings on all those 'lazy, greedy doctors'.

Whilst I know the latter to be mostly bollocks, I don't know enough about the goings on in UK hospitals to have any real opinion on any of that side of it. But what I do know is that when I and my tiny offspring needed them, they were there for us. Yes, there were times I was kept waiting. There were times I was told someone would be there in the morning and I didn't see them until the evening. But when we needed them, they were there. And as a result, my baby is here now and i will never stop being thankful for them.


So now, whenever I'm kept waiting, I hope to God that it’s because my doctor is off playing solitaire or washing his Mercedes. I hope that they're running late because they're surfing Facebook and drinking coffee.

The alternative – and let’s face it, the truth – is that someone needs them at that moment and they can't get away. The chances are they have to deal with something that they can't get away from and they can't just walk out of because they're running late.

They don't have the option to deal with it next week because they have better things to do right now. People's lives don't wait. How much more convenient is it to think, as my dear friend from the waiting room said, that those 'lazy, useless doctors' are wasting his time 'faffing about'.

I hope they are. If those doctors and nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants are off wasting time doing paperwork and chatting, it means that they aren't helping another person who's life is falling apart, and that perhaps somewhere, someone like me is absolutely terrified and facing the possibility that they're about to lose their perfect little baby”.

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WeekendLife

Death or Divorce – a tough choice for many

24th May 2022
pic

Rebecca* is a woman in her late thirties. She holds her head high and walks with a sway in her steps. There is an air of confidence when she speaks. So when she tells me how her husband has been abusing her throughout their 17 years of marriage, I am taken aback.

“Everyday is a new experience for me. I don’t know what version of husband I’ll meet; the one who will scold me for forgetting to lay out his clothes or the one who will hit me for putting too much salt in the soup,” she says while wiping tears. 17 years is almost two decades. I ask her why she has had to endure all that pain for a long time but she only shakes her head and does not answer.

Like Rebecca, hundreds of women experiencing domestic violence find it difficult to leave. For some, it is for reasons best known to them, for others, they simply do not know why or have the words. People who have not experienced abuse find it unfathomable that survivors stay in their relationships and not leave. It seems almost like they enjoy it. But until an experience has been felt, it is easy to give directives on how to act.

For Ms. Ilavbare Goldfish Rahmatulai, it took 6 years to escape the suffocating grip of her abuser. “It was a traumatic experience,” she tells me. “I can tell you this for free; the same intensity used to abuse you is the same intensity used to beg. When he does this, pity begins to set in and you become confused on what to do.”

Ms. Ilavbare Goldfish Rahmatulai

I ask Ms. Demilade Lawal, a psychologist from the University of Chester, in an interview, if there is a psychological reason behind this and she affirms.

“For a lot of women, it’s a glimmer of hope that things are going to get better. And that glimmer of hope can be understood when we are aware of the social cycle of abuse. There is a tension phase, an abuse phase and a honeymoon phase. In the honeymoon phase the abuser temporarily changes his ways and alters the victim’s decision to leave. Then the tension starts and then abuse follows.”

Another reason women remain entangled with their abusers is the fear of the unknown, the unclear reality of what would be after leaving.

“The truth is, as much as this person abuses them, there is an emotional connection. They love this person, there is a traumatic attachment whether they are aware of it or not. It is not the best love environment but it doesn’t change the fact that this is how they feel about the person that abuses them. So the thought of starting afresh without this person whom they have grown to love despite the abuse is just as frightening,” Ms Lawal says.

Although this may sound like an unjustifiable reason to some who have not walked this path, Ms. Rahmatulai agrees.

“In my case, I loved him very much. I could not imagine going to tell my family members or friends that the man I loved started hitting me as early as a month into our marriage. I was embarrassed. So I stayed back, hoping it would get better,” she says.

Research shows that one of the many reasons why women remain in abusive marriages is a lack of income which results in total financial dependency on the abuser. Could this be a strategy to trap the victim in an abusive cycle?

“While I was married, my husband would give me very little housekeeping money. He knew I did not have a job and the money would be insufficient but I could not say a word. I had to feed my children. If I complained I would get beaten. He provided for everything in the house, what authority did I have to question him,” Ms Rahmatulai says to me.

I ask Rebecca if she has a job and she says no. She mentions she’s an interior decorator but she barely gets offers. When she does, her husband collects everything.

A major factor for avoiding abusive marriages is to identify red flags. However, these flags are sometimes mistaken for natural behavioural traits. In Ms Rahmatulai’s case, she tells me she noticed her husband was quick tempered and ill mannered before marriage however she waved them aside as he had never hit her during courtship.

How then can abuse survivors find the courage to leave?

“The decision to leave is a process, it takes a shift in perspective – realising that you deserve better and that your kids deserve to grow in a healthy home where they don’t learn to be abusers or think it’s okay to be abused,” Ms Lawal says.

“When I pack my bags to leave, my husband would hit me. When I unpack, he would hit me. I started going to school to get a degree and then later I started trading. When I had what seemed like enough then (N80,000/ $192), I left my husband regardless of the worst that could happen. I realised if I stayed long enough, I would be dead,” Ms Rahmatulai says.

“It’s been 20 years since I left. I’m 51 and a lawyer now. I have dedicated my life to helping women in abusive marriages leave. So many men have called me a home breaker but I say it’s better to break a home and save a life.”

*Rebecca has asked to stay anonymous by using a pseudonym.

Claire Mom is a Nigerian journalist and an advocate for human rights.
Email: clairemom26@gmail.com
Twitter: speakclairely

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WeekendLife

7 Days to go before As One Music Concert

24th May 2022
ATI

Multitudes of music lovers are expected to throng Francistown’s Obert Itani Chilume Stadium for the highly anticipated As One Music concert next weekend.

Updating WeekendLife on the preparations of the event, Kesego Okie said the preparations for the show are going well and they are working around the clock to make sure that they fulfill all logistics that need to be concluded. She said, ATI has been working hard alongside the featured artists to give Batswana the best experience at concert.

She said that the concert has been accepted well by Batswana and they are very happy with the ticket sales. ”But of course we are looking forward to more ticket sales as more people are showing more interest in being part of this historic event and we are grateful to all our partners and sponsors.”

She appealed to the Francistown Business Community to come on board and support the initiative as it’s a concert for the people. Okie said Francistown was chosen for a reason as they believe it is a gate way to a number of other strategic places in Botswana like Maun, Orapa, Phikwe and Kasane.

“We also felt that since the city has been greatly affected by COVID-19 an event of this magnitude was befitting to be held in Francistown so that we can also play our role in uplifting the socio-economic livelihood hence we believe it is vital for the business community of Francistown to embrace us so that collectively we can contribute meaningfully together as one to the community of Francistown”.

She indicated that they have a large number of artists particularly from Francistown that have shown interest during the show activation and other artists that have collaborated with ATI in the past and those that have contributed in the growth of his music, and it would be very difficult for them to fulfil the mandate of the show without support particularly from the corporate community in Francistown.

Tickets for the event are sold at P50 kids, P150 general, 500 VIP silver circle and VVIP for P1500. All tickets are sold at all Liquarama Outlets across the country.

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WeekendLife

Phakalane soars to new heights

24th May 2022
Magang

Founded 30 years ago by David Magang, Phakalane Estates came from humble beginnings to gradually expand into developing one of the most desirable neighborhoods in the country which attract high income dwellers.

When the development began in the early 90s the estate was to be developed into 13 phases. It is then that a decision was taken by the developers to come up with plans that would be appealing to certain groups of the society.

Phakalane Estates continues to make its mark in the property development space, this year, they have managed to invests over P45 million on major renovations to the Golf Estate properties namely the hotel, golf course, and conference center.

Already the company has erected 84 single and double bedroom apartments which commenced early this year. The construction of these new apartments has been set for Peto Estates, a gated community within the Phakalane neighborhood strategically placed a stone’s throw away from multiple shopping centres such as Mowana Park and Acacia Mall.

“We want the best for our clients that is why even in Peto, we have various apartments for every one and also bearing in mind that the people should be not far from the complex,” Phakalane Estates’ Lesang Magang said in an interview.

So far the roads tarring has started at Sebote estate which is part of the estate expansion, it is expected that even things electrically will get handed to the Botswana Power Corporation which will be the last stage plus the lights on the streets. “In terms of infrastructure we don’t compromise we ensure that it is world class so that we don’t disappoint our clients. Those that brought houses earlier when they sell them it comes at a profit.”

Following the success of the launch of Peto Estates back in 2014, when over 300 plots ranging in cost from roughly P300, 000 to P1.4m were immediately sold out with a high surplus of demand, Phakalane Estates boasts strong confidence in the market demand for new apartments in the area.

The apartments are set to follow the trend of the estates with state of the art modern designs and facilities that will unequivocally catch the eye of professionals in the market for a smaller yet upscale rental property in Gaborone. Phakalane Estates CEO Subramaniam Parthiban has expressed plans for the creation of an all-new industrial park in Phakalane aiming to expand and consolidate the existing industrial strength the community already boasts.

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