Miracle Drug

2017-03-31 07:15

Picture: express.co.uk

The forgotten

Our hospital experiences are sometimes similar. As patients, we seek help, hope and health. The difference is that not all of us will find what we are looking for. Some have associated hospital visits with bad experiences that they won’t go even if critically ill. It is not always easy to expect everyone to be thankful for the gift of life initially if they went through a lot. A rescued and resuscitated victim of robbery may take a while to express gratitude. Their belongings had meaning to them. A rape victim might still be in a state of shock to consider any lifesaving procedures done to them important. There are other patient groups we neglect and yet expect to be strong. They have gone through a lot and may not get the necessary support in the community.

Miscarriage and Ectopic Pregnancy

Health professionals will do everything in their power to save women who have bled or are still bleeding excessively. These women will be taken for diagnostic ultrasound, to classify the bleeding cause. Operating theatres will be prepared and the necessary life-saving procedures will be carried out. After recovery in the ward, these women will be discharged and sent home. That’s the routine. Everyone seems to forget that they have lost a baby. It could have been 2, 12 or 18 weeks. How will they carry this pain alone? Are they expected to just be strong and try again?


I had only learned about women carrying demised babies during my undergraduate training. We had seen some of them on ward rounds but never interacted. It wasn’t until I started working that it hit me how hard this burden must be. For various reasons, some women lose their unborn babies. Depending on how far along pregnant they are, some medication will be given to try and push them into labour (induction of labour). They are expected to continue with their pregnancy until labour kicks in. During childbirth, the silence and grief that hangs in the air is so overwhelming that only a few numb professionals can attend to these mothers during labour. The outcome: giving birth to a dead baby.


In a few cases, medical termination of pregnancy will be done. Some mothers may be severely ill or have life-threatening conditions that continuing with pregnancy will kill them. Other women may be victims of sexual assault that simply can’t carry a child that will be a constant reminder of injustice. We also get mostly young girls that are just not ready for the responsibilities and expectations of motherhood. Couples may also opt for abortion as a form of birth control. Whatever the reason, how many women can honestly say they are coping well after an abortion? They will either keep this “dark” secret forever or avoid ever talking about it. Thanks to a society that frowns upon abortion and judges anyone that even thinks about abortion as an option.

Limb amputees

Many doctors can testify that they have had patients choosing to die with rotten limbs than have an amputation done. Most patients are aware that no prayer, herb or magic can reverse the cell death (gangrene) that their limb has already undergone. Only a few will try alternative measures to avoid living without a limb. In a number of cases, these patients will come back to hospital sicker than before. The spread of gangrene and infection; that’s what some surgeons will focus on when explaining amputation indications. We don’t often address the patient’s fear, anger or expectations of living without a limb. Some patients may even express the fear of going to the afterlife incomplete. Others will state how ancestors won’t be pleased with their decision to amputate.

Testes removal

In a society that defines manhood by the size of the sac and south-facing package, it is no surprise that any man faced with medical or surgical indications of castration will be devastated. It is mostly young boys that get spontaneous torsion of the testis. If detected or treated late, the complications of testicular torsion will lead to cell death of the affected testis. Sometimes these boys are still legally young to consent and mothers in most cases are the one who give signed consent for the operation. In our rural hospitals, we don’t always do follow ups to understand the psychological outcomes of the operation. We will give them check-up dates to assess wound healing, yes, but we don’t know how they deal with change room interactions or relationships. Maybe a few come back to hospitals much later with the stress and worry of disappointing their loved ones.

Womb removal

Some causes of abnormal uterine bleeding (AUB) may only be cured by removal of the womb (hysterectomy). In cases of severe uncontrollable bleeding during a caesarean section, a hysterectomy may be indicated. Young women who have undergone this major operation may not be same anymore. They will not be able to carry babies or feel the kick of new life forming inside them. It will be difficult for most if not all to get married without their God-given ability to reproduce. For those who only had plans to give their husbands a soccer team, their very own existence will be challenged. How many doctors can confidently say that they have referred these women for structured debriefing sessions?


Imagine waking up one day, walking, being independent and only going out to the shops for a few minutes. Unfortunately, you get involved in an accident, motor vehicle or robbery related, and the following day you have lost the ability to walk or use the toilet on your own. Imagine being told that you will never be able to feel your legs or remember how a human touch feels on your legs. If you have the worst luck in the world, you may not be able to use your reproductive organs. This is not something that a “I’m sorry, we have tried everything possible to fix you” will make go away. Every day you will be reminded of how you once had privacy and could blend in with the crowd at will. How many time will you wish you had just stayed home the day of the accident?

The patient’s family

It’s extremely difficult bringing a relatively well patient to hospital, then leaving without them. A simple admission can trigger a lot of thoughts for families who are losing faith in hospital care. Some hospitals are labelled as centres of deaths, feared by patients and their relatives. The anxiety of losing loved ones grows exponentially when the doctor walks into the waiting area after a resuscitation. After a failed resuscitation, you can’t predict how the family will react. Parents of young children are usually worst affected. Sudden unexpected deaths or deaths on arrival to hospital are some of the most difficult for families to come to terms with.

On-going care and support

There isn’t much we can do about the above described scenarios. We can’t undo the damage or take away the hurt that patients or families suffer. We can only hope that our society and health professionals alike can put some faith in a miracle drug, therapy. It is often difficult for us as humans to believe in what we can’t see. Give someone a pill, herb or injection and they believe. Tell them about talking and pouring their heart out to a shrink or counsellor; they will doubt your judgement. As a researched and proven science, therapy works although often underrated. Health professionals can improve their referrals to counsellors, social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists. Society should take a chance on therapy and keep an open mind to this underutilized division of science.

Picture: 123rf.com

U2- Miracle Drug

"I want to trip inside your head

Spend the day there

To hear the things you haven't said

And see what you might see

I want to hear you when you call Do you feel anything at all? I want to see your thoughts take shape and walk right out Freedom has a scent Like the top of a newborn baby's head"

News24 Voices Terms & Conditions


AB praises selfless skipper

2010-11-21 18:15

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