Healed of God-Knows-What
I could feel blood dripping down the walls of my chest. The sensation was like a tickle on the inside. I may have burst a vein or an artery. My mind was racing. I couldn’t understand what was happening. I grabbed my chest with both hands, one overlapping the other like a doctor performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation on himself. I limped, then I stopped walking. I was trying to breathe deeply. Calm down, Prince! calm down, Prince!
Sometimes, this weird sensation is like a sting of a bee, sharp and instantaneous. It leaves a paralyzing fear. Maybe I was about to die, I thought, or I might wake one day, but not in this life that I know.
I was 18 years, in my last year in senior secondary school. I was looking forward to graduating and gaining admission into the University to study Medicine and Surgery. And as it always is when you are looking forward to something, time dawdles. For some months, intermittently, I experienced heart palpitations and strange sensations in my chest. I wasn’t sure of the next moment. My heart may stop beating.
As much as I was scared for the next moment, I didn’t bother to report to the school’s sickbay. Where I’m from, you don’t go to the hospital until you are bedridden. Nobody has extra cash to dash some silly doctor who does nothing but gives you toxic western medicines that kill you just a little every time it is ingested. And in school, the sickbay is a hellhole. The last time I was there, the number of pills the nurse gave me for malaria made me wonder where and how I had offended her.
I knew the nurses at the sickbay can’t do much. Their specialty is in treating the regulars; malaria, typhoid, headaches, etc. I didn’t tell my friends how I was feeling all the while. The last thing I wanted was for anyone to see me as sick, and I didn’t want to feel that way either.
Days into my holiday, I felt the same sensation. I told my parents and they planned on taking me to see a doctor. That evening, over the phone my friend and classmate told me to pray and promise God that if God heals me, I would serve God all of my life. He had told me his pastor had taught that God likes a deal bargain. Jacob had done the same in the book of genesis. Jacob requested that the Lord guide and protect him through his journey, and if God grants it, he (Jacob) would serve the Lord and pay tithe. And God did.
As a desperate and fearful boy who would do anything to be alive, I took his advice. My prayer became, “God if you let me live, I would serve you all of my life.”
My older brother accompanied me to visit the cardiologist. I had visited the general practitioner the day before, and he referred me to the cardiologist. That was the typical procedure; One has to see the general practitioner, he examines you, and if he thinks you need a specialist, he refers you to one. My brother and I arrived at the government hospital before 7 am. We had to go that early else we won’t see the doctor. They had a setdown number of patients they see each day because of the many patients that come into the hospital to report sick.
You had to be there before 7 am to see a doctor who would walk into the office at 9 am. That’s what Nigeria offers you if you can’t afford to walk into a private hospital and get good health care. For people like me, I had to make do of the government hospitals, which were cheaper and mostly ill-equipped. They see more patients and death, and with that comes the tendency to be detached from empathy.
Recently, a friend recounted, to me, her ordeal in a government hospital. After a ghastly accident that left her left lower arm bone broken and only connected by the flesh, the hospital requested a police report before they could attend to the emergency case. And even without treating the patient, they were only concerned with money for bed space.
After sitting for over three hours and after about 13 patients who came before us, they finally called me in to see the doctor. I remember the lady’s bright smile and her American accent-The type that Nigerians who have watched many American films speak to feel brilliant and civilized. My brother and I sat down to the feel of the air-conditioner. She asked why I visited the hospital.
I explained as best as I could how I palpitate like I am about to go on stage to make a presentation; like I fear something that is on its way but hasn’t reached my conscious mind. I told her about the strange feeling of blood leak somewhere in my chest. I don’t know if she could make sense of all I was saying as I could hardly find words to describe the sensations and the exact portion of my chest from which I felt the pain. She prescribed a drug, asked me to go for an echocardiogram and re-visit in a fortnight.
I went for the echocardiogram two days after the appointment at the hospital. The result showed I have a protruded tissue, the name of which I can’t recall. The doctor explained that the abnormally protruding tissue was not something to worry about. He also said the protrusion is not the cause of the sensations or palpitations I experienced.
I went back to school the week after. I took the pill for just a week instead of a month as the doctor had prescribed while I waited on God to keep his side of the deal we made. Or should I say the deal I dragged him into making? I didn’t feel the strange leak and palpitations until a year after. Again, I felt what seemed like a liquid flowing through the walls of my chest. I grabbed my chest and stooped like someone having a heart attack. And after a brief moment, I felt like nothing had happened.
I did nothing about it. Remember, we only go to the hospital when we are almost dying. We don’t care about checkups or early detection. God heals us until he doesn’t. It won’t’ kill me this time. That was my belief.
It has been over 14 years since the last time I experienced the sensation. Maybe God kept his part of the deal. But I, the proposer, have not kept to my part of the deal.
Perhaps I’m not healed; What was wrong with my heart went on a long vacation. Or perhaps, it was an illusion (like I have thought once or twice). Whatever it might have been, I am just grateful to be alive.