Nurse Jacob had a Ugandan accent but he was Gusii- born and bred. You could smell bananas from the moment he walked in, powerful signature- true to his stems. He often joked that he moved to Uganda because he loved bananas so much that he couldn’t afford not to devour the different breeds.
He was slightly tanned; patches of fair skin on his face and his hand’s lighter shade gave him away. He would wear his tag loosely as if he was in a hurry to escape his belligerent wife. She came by work one day to check if he was really at work- he did not give her a warm reception. (Story for another day)
He told me of Uganda and the mountain that trudges above the clouds and sound bellows at its feet. The trees that swayed, the women that wear short skirts and the men who gleefully smiled at 14 year olds oscillating with the movement of their short dresses. He mentioned the latter with disgust. But from his eyes, you could tell the infinite joy it brought him to be there, he would go on and on of his livelihood and I would listen intently. Never missing a comma, it must have been the heftiness of his accent that tickled every nerve.
He would narrate simultaneously as he put the last drip of the night, knowing the excruciating pain one goes through when the vein blocks. His gestures and small polite intonation would make you forget for those few seconds. Until you are knocked out dead. Sometimes he would delay in giving me medicine but if it were not the medicine then it was his stories that cured me and the sweet chimes from Mutinda Wakwitu.
Sometimes he would talk of Kisii and his people, his ten year old daughter who meant the world to him and hopes one day she will become a doctor. I would joke of her being a nurse but he would frown upon the idea and I would be coerced to refrain as the needle was pointing towards me. He was a great nurse.
When I was asked for a stool sample onset of my admission, I giggled and dismissed the idea. It was not until they told me I wouldn’t be discharged before I give a sample that I cowered. Unable to hold anything down for five days, I was hallucinating in my bed thinking of trivial issues that were clearly not helping my bowel movement.
They often served me ngwaci– I hated it. I chocked on it a few times and passed out due to the dosage then wake up to a nurse snitching on me to my mother of how I have not eaten pointing at my table filled with food. My mother would prop me and force me to eat pawpaw. God, I hated pawpaw. It was baby food- smelt like baby food and tasted even worse. I would soon throw it up perhaps due to flagyl or psychological issues.
Days went on quite roughly but I looked forward to Jacob the night nurse and Mutinda the soul soother. With time I was interacting with nurses from all over the hospital- disliked a few and formed permanent bonds with many.
This particular night shift was different. No one was swaying the hall’s door back and forth with a tray of drugs; the only uniform around was Apondi- security guy, a complete stranger but with a heart of gold. A little bit past 9pm, Jacob comes in haste. Most patients are dead asleep but once an insomniac always an insomniac. He dashes to Mwende’s bed to assess her blood pressure, she always wakes up in panic. I would say it scared the shit out of me but well…..
Her procedures were so intense it would take Jacob one hour.
Proceeding to my bed, he would come in singing in happy tunes:
“O bwariba baba”
“Oh bwariba baba”
(pardon my spelling)
I often told him to give me the uniform as there could only be one sick person between us.
He finished administering the drugs and before you know it I headed straight to the bathroom. No, our hospital gowns did not have open backs so my butt cheeks were nicely tucked away. Whenever he saw me go to the ladies, he would raise his left eyebrow as if to ask on the arrival of my pot of gold. I would give him a gang sign if yes and he would sing his famous tune.
Upon my return I gave him my sample; we laughed and knelt before it as if it was royalty. In some way it was, he understood the agony I went through and didn’t feel ashamed to check the amount I brought forth. It was weird but I knew his intentions were pure. I slept like a toddler after a day at Uhuru Park; I didn’t flinch the whole night and woke up at 6am the following day.
I was so eager to be discharged and couldn’t stop visualizing walls around me instead of the pink drapery. Dr. Valerie had an intense aura; you would know it’s her from her footsteps even though she looked a little under 65kg. She would call me Ms. Diaz with a sharp Luopean accent and crack witty jokes with me. We often discussed Grey’s anatomy and how cool Meredith is- she felt like the Meredith of that hospital. In more ways than one she was.
I asked her what are the prospects of me sleeping in my bed and she would dismiss my inquiries with a joking ‘ wewe ni wetu’. But today is the day if you gave out your sample- I nodded like a young girl being asked to devour the last slice of cake.
All the other nurses passed by my bed and the head nurse congratulated me for the achievement. It was almost as if I was being dabbed by the royal highness but I don’t want to get into the title. My mother arrived at exactly 8am to get my discharge papers and the rest of my family soon followed. It wasn’t love that I felt- it was something far much more supernatural. All those who have been on the other side can understand that feeling.
Dr Valerie is still roaming around so I inquire about my results again; she is quick to say that they are still at the lab. Lab tests only take 30min so speculation amongst family members began. Nothing worse than a gang of blood related people thinking they are lab technicians. When the last straw of patience broke, I knew the hell I would raise. The head nurse went to look into it.
She strolled timidly to my bed with a brown bag hand almost an hour later. I thought it was my sample but wondered why she had it and how she was walking with someone’s shit like that. Her face seemed remorseful- I recognized that face, I’ve seen it before on my friend when she lost my heels and fretted to tell me. I am Cruella D’evil when I’m angry but when I’m sick and angry- I am a definite Hitler.
‘Jacob never delivered your stool sample’.
Mwende peeped in to see the ensuing drama. I laughed sarcastically.
“You lost my shit!”
“Was it stolen?”
“How does shit get lost?”
“Do you have a shit collector?”
“What level of sorcery is this?”
“Where does shit go if not the loo alone?”
By this time Nurse Irene was laughing almost peeing on herself. She tried to maintain her professional stature from time to time but would get lost in it all.
Mwende whispered in Kamba low tones “emea vuu” – you’ve conquered
I was raging with madness but they thought it was an episode of Churchill live. She apologized for the negligence and assured me that the next shit will be handled with the importance it deserved. But I was tired of their shit and couldn’t give anymore…………
A lot of shit talk went on until 5pm……
To be continued
Do not eat after this.
Ps. taking a sample of your own stool is so traumatizing, I have PTSD every time I go to the ladies.