Written by Evi Idoghor
I spent the weekend organizing my home, cleaning, doing laundry, and packing items for my hospital stay. I called my cousin who was going to stay with me, saying, "make sure you pack warm clothes, you know the room would be freezing." On Sunday, my friends called me on a group call and began praying for me. During our prayer session, one of them mentioned that when she prayed for me earlier in the day, God revealed to her that I was battling with fear. Fear had engulfed me to the point where I had to repeatedly declare, “I will not allow my mind to become the enemy's playground,” with each scary thought that popped up. After I confirmed what she said, we prayed against the spirit of fear, which brought me great comfort.
I also held on to a few scriptures that were relevant to my situation – “For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”” Isaiah 41: 13. This assured me that God was with me. “I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.” Psalm 3:5. This scripture helped quell the consternation I felt regarding anaesthesia.
The night before my surgery was brief. I slept very little. I was instructed to stop eating at 8 p.m. and not to drink any water, no matter how thirsty I became. That was a difficult pill to take because my room was generally covered with bottled water as I woke up with a dry mouth every morning. I swallowed my saliva reluctantly whenever I felt the impulse to drink water after 8:00 p. m – I did not want anything to sabotage the success of my procedure.
I jumped in the shower when my alarm went off and waited for my aunt and cousin to take me to the hospital. Aside from the surgery, the thought of having to take a co-vid test terrified me. I know this sounds silly, because I was about to get my body cut open, however, the horrors I had heard about them sticking the long cotton bud down your nostril, all the way behind your throat, scared me. I had never done a co-vid test, I tried to talk myself out of it, but the hospital stood their ground, if I tested positive, then the procedure would have to be halted.
When she slowly inserted the ridiculously long cotton swab into my nostril, I tightly closed my eyes and tilted my head backward. “All right, we're finished!” She said, "is that it?” I asked, “I didn't feel a thing!” This must be God answering my prayers, we are off to a great start. After a lengthy wait, the outcome was announced, and I was directed to my room. I waved my aunt, and hugged my sister-in-law, who had stopped by on her way to work, and slowly walked up the stairs with my cousin. When we arrived at the room where we would spend the next few days, I changed into the hospital gown and sat on the bed. The nurse came in, introduced herself, and started an IV for me while also measuring my blood pressure, which was extremely high at the time. “It must be anxiety,” she explained, “so I'll come back in a few minutes and take it again.”
The anaesthesiologist then entered the room and explained how he was going to sedate me. He also asked if I was allergic to anything, to which I replied, “no.” “Good,” he said, “everything will be fine.” The general surgeon then came in to explain his role among the other doctors. “Are you nervous?” he asked, and I nodded in agreement. “Don't worry, everything will be okay by God's grace,” he said. God’s grace? I screamed in my head, you know what Nigerians mean when they say – by the grace of God, this phrase has been so abused, that most times, the people who say it, mean that if anything goes wrong, they should be absolved of any responsibility, because everything is in God's control.
As a Christian, I appreciated that my doctor also believed in Jesus Christ, but I also wanted to be certain that he was qualified for the position. Finally, my gynaecologist arrived and told me that my rising blood pressure was due to anxiety, and that was nothing unusual. So, at 8:15 a.m., I was escorted by my nurse into the operating room. “Good luck!” My cousin exclaimed as she made her way to the waiting room.
On reaching the door of the operating room, I could hear a group of people discussing politics, of course politics was too hot a topic in the country not to be discussed, even before a major procedure. However, as soon as I stepped inside, the room fell silent. “Come and lie here,” one of the doctors said as I scanned the room, eyeing all the machines I was about to be connected to. Then a nurse came in and began asking questions to make sure they had everything they needed for the procedure. The anaesthesiologist then appeared on my right side and inserted something into my IV.
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