The Accidental Doctor

My name is Lola, and I am an accidental doctor- accidental, because I didn’t plan to be one.

You see, like most children, I had changed my mind a lot about which profession I wanted to go into. I wanted to be an actress, then a lawyer, then an accountant, then a singer, then a mommy.

I was always top of my class, and my folks thought these choices weren’t challenging enough. So instead, they offered the dream almost every Nigerian parent has offered their child: ‘Why not be a Doctor’?

Everyone agreed… My parents, my teachers, my friends. And since I had always done what I was told, I applied to study Medicine& Surgery, and six rough years later, became a doctor- an accidental doctor.

I got into Medicine and it wasn’t all that. Like a bunch of other people, I hadn’t chosen my profession. It had been chosen for me. In my mind’s eye, I had always wanted to be a Creative, bringing things alive, but my circle had chosen different and I had allowed them.

Thankfully, I had always wanted to help people, so I wasn’t completely out of my depth. I went through the motions, and I watched Grey’s anatomy for inspiration. The thing is, though — Grey’s anatomy (a medical TV series) was much more fun and exciting than my realities in the hospital. In Grey’s anatomy, things worked. Patients were seen on time. Patients got better.

I studied, passed my exams, and I became a doctor.

The next thing was to choose a specialty, and that wasn’t any fun.

And then, it happened.

I was travelling to Abuja by road when the vehicle I was in veered off the road and into the bushes, somersaulting until a tree stopped its motion. The vehicle was badly damaged, shattered glass everywhere. People were screaming, some shouting “Jesus!” all calling on their god. Everyone was tense and aghast. And then some wise guy asked, “What if the bus blows up?” and that caused a mad scramble to get out of the bus.

There were no fatalities. There were sustained injuries, though none too serious. I had only bruises on my palm from clawing my way out of the upturned bus through a small window.

Now, here’s the most unnatural part. There was no First Aid, no 911 to call, no police checkpoint in view, no nearby ambulance- no help. My friend and I were the only doctors in the bus, and we were fresh out of school. Even if we had something in our heads to help people, we were badly shaken up. She couldn’t even move her right arm. We suspected she had a fracture. I had a scarf with me with which I made a makeshift splint for her.

I kept wondering, “What if the accident had been more serious? What if we had sustained grave injuries? What if people were bleeding out?” Most of us would have died that day, with no help in view or nearby. There were no reception signals, so phones were not even optimal to call, and even if they were, how would they have gotten to us? How would they have reached us? And…who is ‘they’?

I remembered Grey’s anatomy and how everything would have been so different. We would have called 911, a rescue team & ambulance would have been dispatched and sent to us, and we would have found ourselves in a trauma centre in minutes.

And that was my decision point. I decided to own my career. It had been chosen for me, but I could live out my life helping people, like I’ve always wanted to do.

And so, I decided.

I will be an accidental doctor. I will save lives.

My creative side will find ways to manifest, in and out of Medicine.

I will do this.I will become an accidental doctor for real.

I chose Emergency Medicine as my specialty, and now, I’m on that path.

My name is Lola. And I am an accidental doctor.