knhBy Unbroken Eyes

I can’t say I hate hospitals; I was always in them anyways especially over the last 3 years. Also, I think I would be pretty good at nursing.

Everyone who’s been to Kenyatta National Hospital has a story. You must have one. So today I will share mine.

I knew KNH like the back of my hand, I knew which entrance to use when it was past visiting hours, I knew which guards were friendlier and what to tell them, I knew where to get the Wheel chairs which are a hidden gem or the stretchers from 7th floor. I once paid a night cleaner 200 bob to get me one. This was my first night at KNH and it was at 10pm.

My mum had to be admitted, we had no money for admission to the private ward and also KNH had better orthopedic doctors and we’d be seen for free obviously since NHIF would pay. Please get a medical cover, nothing is more important, trust me, I know. So off, we went to KNH, this was June 2014. I was 2 months’ post-partum, I had been away from my baby all day and the milk was bursting through my nursing pads. We walked into the Casualty, A&E section at 7pm. The scene is another story which I will tell you about at another time. But just to draw you a picture, smelly, dirty, blood, more blood, open wounds, babies crying, old people coughing their lungs out (I kid you not, there’s always something flying out), mad men (seriously-hallucinating men), more blood, tired nurses, no doctors, KMTC students who probably started school last week, and no stretchers nor wheel chairs.

So on this night we realized admission was not coming any time soon, what with the series of tests we had to do before. In the triage, the usual vitals are taken, weight and blood pressure. We waited for an hour to get this done. By 10pm we were called out again to go see the doctor, he sent us to the lab, and to the X-ray department irrespective of the results I had come with form the private doctor’s visit earlier today. Then a kind nurse advised me to get her a stretcher since we would be a long time and they needed to put on her on a drip. I use the word kind loosely.

I forgot to mention what had brought us here. My mom was diabetic for almost 20 years, she had managed all through but life had happened and taken a toll on her. What, with the loss of her husband and son to cancer. So on this particular occasion, her foot had a wound and diabetic wounds are a PIA. (Slang dictionary for that). And to say those things are messy is an understating the facts. My whole house reeked like crazy, can’t even describe it. The carpets, the seats, the upholstery, every room even the car. I could see how this greatly affected her seeing how people gave us the stares. Unrelenting, we soldiered on!!! My mom was a tough one though. At KNH we found a 70year old woman with the exact same problem and we became fast friends.

So I paid the cleaner to get me a stretcher from 7th floor, if you have been to KNH you know how crazy the lifts are. The number of times I have gotten stuck in them. I am the one now left to calm everyone else down. But honestly, don’t take the lift, just take the stairs even to 8th floor. 9th & 10th are Private wing and they have different lifts. And No, you can’t go to 9th or 10th and take the stairs, they have closed that exit too. How malicious!!!

So we were told to pick the lab results after 2 hours, we did the X-ray too which was immediate but the report would be out in an hour. So we sat and waited. My hubby had brought food, tea and blankets to keep us warm. I also got to pump and he went home to baby sit. This whole time while she was on drip I had to raise rather lift the bag because this particular stretcher which I had paid 200 bob for didn’t have that allowance to hang the drip bag. So I am walking around with one arm in the air and pushing the stretcher and my mom was not 50kgs.

Come 2am we had all the results out and now we can go for wound dressing. The male nurse I found there, let’s just say, if he was drowning, I would be throw him a dumbbell. He was so rude and pouted his lips in a series of Mschews as he cleaned the foot, yes it was too smelly especially un-bandaged but goodness, you are a nurse, a male nurse, take it like a man. Oh well, I opted to help and he was elated.  I gloved up and did.

So we finally got to see the doctor with all our results, a lovely doctor, can’t remember her name. We saw her at 7.30am, yes, I kid you not. We were finally admitted in Ward 7B, with the other woman with the same problem. I finally went home to sleep and feed the baby. I didn’t come back till the next day. Nothing had been done, no doctor had come, no one had talked to her about anything. Also, they were in a room that fits 6 patients comfortably and respectful of privacy et al. Just so you know they were 12 patients.

Long story short, mum spent close to two weeks in that ward, 7B, saw the foot doctor twice, it took 3 days to get her discharge done. Running after doctors, begging the nurses to take her for her scheduled dialysis in Renal ward lest she forfeits the turn. The other lady was told she had to get amputated. Apparently hers was really bad. She died in the theatre. God only knows what happened.

Renal Ward is another story altogether which I will share later. You have to be clever and sometimes cunning to survive Renal Ward. But I am glad mum had me. I always pitied patients who would travel from so far and not know how to get around or the short cuts we all had come to rely on. I am a pro in KNH now, I have a degree in KNH. Seriously, I do.

KNH taught me how to be patient. I keep saying God taught me patience through that hospital. You will meet nurses who could care less about you or your relative, or whatever pain they could be in, or whatever rush you are in. They could care less. I learnt how to wait, how to be patient, how to sweet talk, how to just sit and stare instead of badger with a series of questions. Nope, that’s for Private Hospitals. Even our time at Private Wing later on was no different. Reason, the nurses are the same. They carry that bad attitude to the private wing. One time, my mom’s sugar was so low to a 2 and that’s really bad if you speak diabetes like me. She was in 10th floor and it was midnight. The other patients tried to call the nurses but they were ignored. The Burundi woman next to her came to her aid and mixed up half a cup of sugar with water and quickly fed her. Yes, that works. Soda too or chocolates. They raise the blood sugar level and restore sanity. That’s how people die of low blood sugar in a second. I am no doctor but I have woken up a lot of times at 2 am to do the above. The person will most likely be drenched in sweat, you have to change sheets, and put the fan on, give Oat Biscuits, Fanta or Eclairs. Test sugar levels, check blood pressure and when all is settled and dry, now everyone can sleep.

About her foot, we ended up at Aga Khan with the very brilliant and very talented albeit expensive Professor Stanley Khainga and he had to take away her toes and nurse the wound for 4 months with alternate days dressing by Yours truly but it eventually healed. Don’t get me wrong, Toes didn’t grow back. But now we only had to pay for half a pedicure….

Also today is my mum’s birthday. She would have been 53. Happy Birthday Mom, Rest in Peace. Beautiful even in death. Even death couldn’t get you because Jesus got you mum…He did.