Sunday, December 2, 2012

Further Adventures in Medicine - II

Wednesday (21st) I woke up and was immediately grateful. I was grateful that I was not in terrible pain. I could walk and was just fine. I headed off to the hospital, made my way to the MRI, and showed them my N100,000. Now how about some service? "Well, where's your green [registration] card?" I still don't have one. Did the doctor not prepare anything?

One of them kindly walked me around the hospital gathering the various pieces of paperwork I needed, steering me through lines (and sometimes around them), arguing with the officials on my behalf, until I finally had the paperwork done 45 minutes later. Actually, since I only thought I needed the N100,000 for the MRI I had very little other cash on hand. When registration cost N1,500 I had to borrow N1000 from him. I paid him back once we returned to my backpack, but he really helped me through and was very nice.

Two other patients were ahead of me. Their MRIs were taken care of; I had mine, at long last. The hardest part wasn't laying still so much as it was keeping my arms above my head for 30-40 minutes. I was exceptionally stiff when we were done. Once dressed, they let me take pictures of the MRI with my iPad. Boy, I wished I had my real camera! So far those are the only pictures I've seen. They promised to forward my diagnosis on.

The Abuja office picked me up and took me first to the Abuja office (a very nice compound) to pick up a couple other passengers. The fellow in charge asked if we were ready to go. I asked him if he had any money for me. He'll be right back! ... Actually, he forgot to go to the bank the day before to get the N100,000 to pay me back. Can he have my bank account number to pay it in later today?

Those of you not in Nigeria would probably be pretty freaked out at an actual, flesh and blood Nigerian asking for your bank account information. Having a longer relationship with AUN, and having worked with this fellow in the past, I cheerfully trusted him. The money was back in my account that afternoon.

We drove and then I ran (as much as a fellow with two touching vertebrae can), arriving at my gate 10 minutes before my flight was scheduled to leave. An hour later we were ready to board. Everything is late here ... just don't count on it. I landed, drove home with the nearest taxi, and rejoiced to be with my family again that night.

Walking in the door that afternoon fulfilled a dream I had. I hadn't had a chance to talk to them to confirm I was coming home yet. So when I walked in the door during snack time, I was greeted to rousing cheers, shouts, and other acclamations of surprise. Prince ran to me to give me the biggest hug he had. Then he announced we should all sing, "I'm so glad when Daddy comes home." As Joy sang, he acted out each of the lyrics, climbing up on my knee to hug me tight and give me a great big kiss. From the time I was a kid, I dreamed of someday being a Dad and having my children do that. It was exceptionally sweet. Our maid, hearing our jubilations, popped her head out of the kitchen to smile at me - perhaps the first time she has! (It's not that she's sour or angry or stand-offish ... it's a different culture, different male-female relationship issue and an inability to communicate. She smiles at the kids and Joy a lot. She generally tries to avoid eye contact or being in the same room with me.)

Now THAT was what was supposed to happen the day before. Quiet desperation and efficiency followed by happiness. Things CAN get done very quickly around here. It just takes time to get there. Joy notes you can sometimes be insulted by how quickly things can get done.