African StoriesEditor's ChoiceLife and General FictionNaija Stories

The Main Killer

Everybody had gone out to have fun except Steph, she usually loved being the last to leave the room. We were three best friends the entire university has known so far, others started in their hundred levels but getting to three hundred or even two hundred level they got separated but the three of us had stood the test of time.

The usual act of partying every Friday night had continued going on amongst us until that fateful Friday that Jenny collapsed, right in front of the guys that invited us. What a disgrace, we thought, what a loss of huge money.

She was rushed to the hospital and was bedridden for three days, because the doctors had to carry out lots and lots of tests to know what was wrong with her.
The results came out but not with a positive outcome; everybody wanted to know why the result had taken so long to come out, because if it wasn’t for Sophy’s idea to take her to the hospital, we would have probably taken her home with the self-medication ideology that it was either malaria or typhoid fever. And we might have even given her drugs that we bought in case of any slight headache or dizziness comes up.

Self-medication has always been the order of the day for so many families, that it has become a normal routine or normal thinking for any of them.

The result stated that she has breast cancer and it had worsened; and the doctor was sorry to say that she would not live more than three months.

Were they all dreaming or was it a joke, what? Breast cancer? We couldn’t believe what they heard and the fact that it had worsened made us sadder.

Jenny was told about her state of health and at first, she acted as if everything was okay.

Or is it that she didn’t hear us right? I thought

“I am fit and healthy, why would the doctor say otherwise, and to even say that it has worsened?” She bursted out crying.

One week later, we attended the funeral of Jenny, a dear friend. There were now two of us left, we couldn’t believe that Jenny was gone, the doctor said she had three months more to live, why did she die within one week? It was a painful experience and a sad moment for us.

Two days after Jenny’s burial, the hospital called back saying they were sorry, that there had been a mistake in the result of Miss Jennifer Okereke.

“What mistake?” Sophy asked.

The receptionist said, “Please the doctor requests the presence of Miss Jennifer and her family members to discuss it in his office because it is a very delicate and serious mistake.”

It didn’t take long for us to contact Jenny’s family. Before one could say Jack and Jerry, we were already in the doctor’s office, waiting to hear the delicate mistake.

“Ma and sir,” the doctor started, “we are very sorry for the pain we might have caused you all, but the result that was given to Miss Jennifer Okereke wasn’t really her own. The lab technician switched a patient’s test result with hers. She only had acute malaria.”

“I didn’t hear you well, Doctor, repeat what you have just said.”

“Ma I am very sorry, please let me speak with Miss Jennifer Okereke, we can even carry out another test to confirm what I just said now.”

“My daughter Jennifer died last week and has already been buried, and you are here telling me sorry? Is sorry going to bring her back? I have always known my Jenny was healthy and she said it herself, but just that she was thinking too much about the illness and that was what actually killed her.”

Tears weren’t enough to express how we felt about the death of Jenny, our best friend and that was how we lost her to the fear of illness.

I have come to realize that diseases or even sicknesses do not kill, what kills or the main killer is the fear and the knowledge of that disease or sickness. And also, if Miss Jennifer Okereke had gone to another hospital to confirm her health status, it would have helped her. Hospital workers (doctors, nurses, lab technicians, etc.) are human and can make mistakes, that doesn’t mean they don’t know their job or aren’t hardworking, but these are just to let us all know that humans are not perfect and humans can make mistakes.

So, my best advice is for us to check two or more hospitals to confirm our health status especially when it’s a very serious illness. That doesn’t mean that you can’t get a good and confirmed result from a hospital—its possible, but it will still be good if we checked others too to be very sure of our health status.

I also stand against self-medication even though lots of people indulge in it, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do.

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