— By Anibe from Nigeria
It was just months after my twentieth birthday when I had the unforgettable accident. I remember how one morning, as I laid in the hospital bed with my right leg hanging, it dawned on me that I may never walk again. The thought didn’t scare me. I was numb of all feeling, except for the burning sensation in my dangling leg.
From the corner of my eye, I saw someone coming in. I knew it was my nurse. You see, I called her my nurse because we became such close friends. No one else would check in at 3 am to see if I was really sleeping. Before then, I also never heard of a nurse who bought fruits for her patient. She had no child of her own, but was one of the kindest people I ever met. Like me, she loved books, and would always bring me some.
As I jotted down random thoughts in my diary that morning, I looked up and it was her, of course. I guess she knew I wasn’t in the mood for our usual gist. So, she pulled a seat beside my bed and watched as I wrote, without saying a word – because she didn’t have to. I wrote about how I would become a successful CEO. Only, right then, I didn’t believe it.
How could I have believed in anything when I could smell sickness and disinfectant everywhere? I was assaulted by these smells from the first day I was wheeled in. But they paled in comparison to the real problem – that patients died every day. And some of those still living would never get better. I knew because I saw it in their eyes. Then, there was me in that odd gown with talcum powder all over my body, because I could get bedsores from prolonged immobility. How could I have believed in anything? How?
A moment later, I thought back to one night, a year before when my roommate and I were talking. She kept saying that it couldn’t be stopped. “What?” I had asked. “Accidents, illnesses, and especially death.” She spoke slowly, her teeth seemed clenched, eyes focused straight up at the ceiling. When I pressed her for more, she said, “I’m afraid I’ll end up just killing myself.” At that time, it had given me shivers, a clammy feeling ran throughout my body. But I talked myself out of it, saying she was only being dramatic.
Well, here I was, a victim of an accident – one of the things she talked about! More than anything, I wanted to break free. I worried that I might remain tied to that bed. I was stuck. So I figured if I couldn’t change the situation, maybe I could pretend it wasn’t happening. My only bright moments were my nurse’s visits, books, and a small radio she got for me. They were my tickets out of whatever I thought I was in.
Many months later, I was discharged from the hospital with a slight limp, crutches, and the will to live again – thanks to my nurse. But two years after this memorable experience, I heard a sad news – my nurse had passed away. It was painful because I wasn’t sure if I thanked her enough for being nice to me, a total stranger. I felt guilty because I didn’t return some her books like I promised. I was confused because I didn’t understand why she had to die when the world didn’t have enough good people.
It’s been a long journey to personal growth and a lot has happened to make me the person I am today. But to her honour, I decided to start helping to make someone else’s pain less painful – no matter their colour, religion, or tribe. I take small steps towards this every day, and I hope my nurse is proud of me.
Rest in peace, my nurse.