Thursday, September 16, 2021

My experiences at Masvingo Provincial Hospital

Chabarika lies on a hospital bed
Bothwell Chabarika
As my eyes opened, I realised that I was facing a wall but I did not immediately know where I was until, slowly, I gained full consciousness. I started to have an idea of what was going on. I felt a funny feeling on my stomach which was wrapped by bandages and the excruciating pain was gone. That’s when I realised that the surgery was a success.
I thanked God through a short prayer and went back to sleep since I was weak and was still in some sort of confusion. As I relaxed, preparing myself to sleep, I began to recall what had taken place the night before.
My arrival at Masvingo Provincial Hospital was for the worst of medical needs, and I was in deep pain. The bumpy dusty road from the gate to the Out Patients Department (OPD) reception got me worse. I groaned in pain as I asked the driver to slow down because the pain was unbearable.
This was Sunday, March 25, 2018 at around 21:30hrs. I had left the same place in the morning of the same day when the first signs that all was not well with my health had first showed, but I been sent back home with a prescription of pain killers.
This time around, I entered the OPD with the help of my father who minded every step for me since I had become almost useless on my own. I could not stand up straight and had no energy to walk by myself. I was feeling so hot that my shirt felt like it was burning.
We went through the processes in the Trauma Section, where the doctor was called for an emergency followed by some examinations which saw me getting admitted. Further tests were to be done in town at some identified clinic as the doctor had instructed.
Along the same bumpy road of anguish, we left the hospital premises and went back to town. A chest scan and some X-rays were done and we were told that the doctors were supposed to continue with any necessary action since there was something wrong with my appendix.
We came back to the hospital and went straight to the surgical ward where I was admitted at bed 20 in the observation ward. It was around 01:00hrs.
I was put on intravenous treatment (drips) while nurses would frequently give me pain numbing injections in preparation for the surgery.
We woke up early on Monday and were told to go and take a bath. Those who had no towels like myself where given torn pieces of old pillow cases to use. Well I had no option but to use the cloth.
Family and friends came to see me during the visiting hour, on their way out I walked them outside because I wanted to kiss Darlene, my one-year-old daughter ‘goodbye’ since I was not sure if I was going to survive the surgery. Maybe that was my last time to see her, I thought to myself.
Soon after the visiting hour, I was taken to the theatre. I do not remember what I was thinking as we went through the corridors and passages. I do not even remember the feeling I had but I was not afraid at all because I wanted the pain to go. It was too much. I quietly clinched to the stretcher bed as we drew closer and closer to the theatre.
When I got in the theatre, the confusion intensified, all the fear was gone. All I can remember are the lights that faced me, a peg that clinched my left thumb and something that was pressed on my mouth and nose that I am sure made me pass out.
When I regained consciousness, I was back in the ward and I had a funny feeling on my stomach. I knew the operation had gone well and I was still on the very same bed 20 though I was still in a state of confusion.
As I recovered, I started to see the real face of the hospital. It was not easy. I called for a urinary bucket and it came fast but it was smelling funny.
Afternoon visiting hour came, friends and family came to see me, I tried to communicate but I stammered with my head soaked in sweat. I spent the better part of my Monday sleeping. Treatment came, I was given more injections and some drip.
On Tuesday morning, I was moved to the next bay in the same ward and I was now on bed 11. My bed was close to the sluice room and the smell that came from that room was not pleasing. I noticed that each time a bed pan or a urinal was emptied, it was only given a bare flash of water to clean it, and nothing more. It would then be put aside for the next patient who needed it. No wonder where the bad smell was coming from. At times the door would be left open and flies would freely fly from the smelly room to the ward.
As the days went by, I started to build friendships with other patients I shared the ward with. We socialised and shared our stories, opening up to each other on how we ended up in the hospital. I heard someone complaining about the rugged road from the gate and I immediately knew I was not alone.
In this bay, there was a big challenge of lights; only one or two lights were functional so during the night, the mosquitos feasted on us. They found their way in through the windows that were open all the time and they would freely enjoy sucking our blood since we could not cover our heads because the smell of the blankets were bad. Some blankets and sheets were stained with blood spots.
Wednesday afternoon, I was told that I was supposed to walk around and start to exercise. It was a great experience for me because I wanted to do away with asking for a urinal. I made sure that each time I felt like using the rest room, I go by myself.
My first time on the urinary was not without drama though. I was disgusted when a drop of water fell into the trench, with some splashes getting onto my feet. I then decided never to use the urinary again, and would use the seat instead.
At times, we would visit the toilet only to find that there was no any toilet paper. One day we woke up to dry taps and there was a challenge in the toilet since all the seats were dirty.
The nurses kept on monitoring my condition and I was then ordered to take fluids and after some time, I was then told to take light foods in small portions. I was very hungry and I missed food. I still remember when the time for me to take a light diet came, I ate only three half full teaspoons of rice and I was alright. I spent the rest of the days eating some food which was brought by my wife, Letwin. What I enjoyed from the canteen was early morning porridge with or without peanut butter which we would sometimes eat using forks. Some were given sadza and cabbage or beans but most of the patients preferred to eat food brought by their relatives.
During treatment, the nurses would use a pair of gloves to attend to more than one patient. It got me wondering and I asked one of them why they did that and I was told resources were in short supply. The nurse told me that their work routine was always about risking their own lives to save other people’s lives. I felt sorry for them.
The wound on my stomach needed to be dressed regularly but that could not be done since there was often a shortage of strapping.
It was not an easy experience seeing some of the patients losing their lives. I remember we lost more than four lads during the time I was admitted.
Most depressing were reports of the doctors’ strike. I asked myself if I was going to make it or it was the end of it all. Part of my stay in hospital included the Easter holidays so the doctors did not visit us as often as they would otherwise have done.
There was no entertainment in the ward; the television that was supposed to be entertaining us was locked up in a cage and it showed no sign of life. Some patients would gather at the bed of one privileged man who allowed them to watch movies on his laptop.
By the time the holiday was over, I was able to walk around the hospital with some of the guys from the same ward. I missed home and I prayed for the doctor to come and have me discharged.
Tuesday came and the doctors went around the wards to see the patients, a number of guys in the same ward as me where discharged including myself. We were given our discharge sheets and every one of us were shocked. Considering the conditions, how come the bills were so big?
All being said, I would like to thank God for restoration. I extend my gratitude to the doctors who run around to have this surgery successful. I would like to thank all the nurses who helped me. To my family, relatives, friends  and everyone who managed to pay me a visit or pass greetings through various social media platforms, I say, may God bless you.local, health

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