It was a cold, windy, starry night. Forget about the stars, but the wind was cold. A night you would not want to spend in a cramped place like this, but in the coziness of your duvets.
Time check- 9:25pm. All I could do was marvel at the manual dexterity my boss displayed after a month at MBU. Seeing every emergency case… left… right… centre as I was sturdily taking notes with my eyes.
“You have a new patient to see ASAP” brought my attention to the fact that I wasn’t being just a spectator this evening.
I rushed to the scene and realized I was really on duty. “Please where is the glucometer? Kindly add the cotton wool. Pulse oximeter please?” I was basically asking for everything, including a pen. You know that feeling where you find yourself holding a fishing rod, when you have been a carpenter your whole life, and you are suddenly looking for a fish on the open seas?
The blue color stared right at me. It was time to leave the sea and face reality. This baby was blue!! From the head to the toes. “Can you please get me the pulse oxi..” stopping in my tracks after perceiving the dirty smirk it gave me on the working table.
Beep! 68%… 78%... beep! 30%.. Beeeep! 5%. Someone looked like he wanted to pop off on me. Amidst sweats on a cold evening, I was really on the seas.
“Get me the intranasal prongs to give oxygen” I struggled out. We might have to bag, considering the turn of events. It was right there, that I noticed the frown in the form of a cleft lip and palate.
My first patient for my first duty day and this is what you throw down my neck?
I checked the accompanying the Head Ticket- the piece of paper that wielded the information surrounding the delivery of the baby. The paper read boldly not hesitating. “ Baby is being sent to your unit with Prematurity, Multiple Congenital Abnormalities and Birth Asphyxia. “
Whiz words to the neoteric ears. 28 weeks of gestation? I started to examine the baby, ignoring the plenty beeps intentionally being thrown into my ears to throw me off balance.
Complete Head to Toe Examination. His small head appeared to extrude a soft bloody swelling at the back of his head; most likely containing his brain. His head wasnt well formed. His ears were malformed. His right eye looked like it had been sewn very tight. His flat nasal bridge made inserting the oxygen prongs very difficult. The gaze was intense with the cleft lip and palate. Beeeeep! 3%. Hard guy but you cant bag.
The sounds being played by his chest were melodic, that my stethoscope danced to the tune of it. There were times his lungs would sing at a high pitch and suddenly reach a descendo. These were signs of underdeveloped heart and lungs.
A glance at the genitals had a very ambiguous look. His feet, finally was the classic Rocker Bottom. Words are not enough to describe how he looked but be informed, theres a reason why a normal pregnancy is supposed to last 38 weeks or more.
The mother was the only hope now. A call placed to the labour ward induced the appearance of her head at the entrance. “How did he make it?” she asked, looked astounded, finding the baby alive. A question only God could answer.
It was then the story materialized. She was advised to take an obstetric ultrasound when her pregnancy hit the 7month mark. Unfortunately, the ultrasound blueprinted a baby not likely to survive after he was born; because he had a congenital anomaly. A disability he was likely to be born with.
Although congenital anomalies may be the result of a genetic, infectious, nutritional or environmental factors, it is often difficult to identify the exact causes.
I tried so hard to identify how this mishap happened. “Did you attend antenatal care?, Did you fall ill during the pregnancy? Did you take the prescribed drugs? Did you take any other drug, you shouldn’t have taken during the pregnancy?” All of her responses were music to my ears, making it difficult for the risk factor to be identified.
It was then the question clicked, just like the beep from the monitor. “Did you take herbal preparations?” I asked and her reply was sensational.
Indeed, she did take locally brewed enemas with the aim of making her unborn baby strong and preventing “asram”.
In conjunction with her husband, they had intended to terminate the pregnancy at a hospital, with the erudition from the doctor who performed the ultrasound scan.
Their plan, however was unsuccessful. The baby lived! But barely, with all these malformations. The question I kept on asking myself was why we overburdened ourselves with ignorance of these herbal preparations. You just name it. Any condition with the prefix of chronic attached is caused by our dear herbal preparations. “The dissolver of hernias” and “The smelters of fibroids”. But then the complex puzzle had been solved
Beeeep!! 1%, but then the call had to be made. The child could not be allowed to suffer any more. The blue discoloration worsened and he started to gasp for air.
It was then decided that, the mother shared the remaining seconds of the baby’s life, with him on his bed, on a cold, windy, starry night in the priceless duvet of her mother’s arms.
Beep sensed the reaction, took a few bows and left the scene – returning no more.
A minute later, the baby died, in the arms of her mother. I had no option than to console her, reminding her life had a purpose and everything happened for a reason. “Transfer body to the morgue” my pen concluded, making a diagnosis of Patau Syndrome.
Time check 11:30pm.
A baby is something you carry inside you for nine months, in your arms for three years, and in your heart until the day you die.”
Pregnancy is a special and crucial period for any woman. This is the time, she needs every possible care to ensure her health, and the health of her baby are perfect.
Advice any pregnant woman to visit the clinic regularly, take the prescribed drugs judiciously and avoid herbal preparations which could adversely affect her and the baby. The world needs a better you with everyone in it.
Thanks for reading.