They looked like an army of excited children on their first trip to the museum. The first years walked slowly towards the library making quite a frenzy. Pictures were being taken left, right and centre. Anita was bored to the core as she trudged along. The librarian guiding them was at the end of her rope trying to control the situation. Trying as much as she did, no one seemed to be listening.
This was orientation week and as much as Anita wanted to skip it, Mark had insisted she attended it lest she missed anything important. Just as she had predicted, however, it was quiet an uneventful affair for her. Nothing new to learn or hear or see for that matter. On this particular Friday, the week climaxed with the visit to the library and an address by the vice chancellor later in the day. If she heard the name Fresher one more time she was going to faint or scream, whichever came first. Anita was still in a heated silent soliloquy when the march came to a halt.
‘Come on FRESHERS, get in two lines and switch off your phone as we enter the library,’ a tall man shouted. He had a very rich dark complexion that resembled Mark’s, at this she smiled. This neutralized all the gall that had erupted at hearing that unnerving word for the umpteenth time.
The scramming and all the pushing and shoving around her was another quick reminder of the immaturity around her. Little did she know she would join the push and shove soon enough if she was to get by. For now, however, she walked with her chin up to the back of the line. In long measured steps, shoulders back and head held high she did this.
‘Better show them some class and how decent people behave,’ she shrugged to herself.
For the next twenty minutes they were shown around the library as all manner of questions were asked around her. Enough was enough, Anita was tired and frustrated, she slipped away from the group and sat down at a corner. She would join the caravan when they had had enough of the sight seeing.On her table, she found a book ‘ Pearls of Midwifery’. A warm feeling rushed over her as she opened it and started skimming through it.
The content therein brought back flashes of memories from her career as a nurse. A wonderful memory sprung up as she clutched the book close to her chest.
It was on the 3rd of May, and she was due for a night shift. Her very first night shift since her internship started several weeks prior. This chilly night found her deep in the heart of West Pokot at the Kapenguria District hospital.
Her friend Fred and herself were the only interns posted there from her university and as nature demanded they clung close to each other. Anita was even starting to see some sparks flying between them. I mean, what was there not to like? He was smart, had a sense of humour from Nairobi to China, worked diligently. Man, the way he used his words! Fred had such a way of using his words, he would speak a rock into giving him water!
Anyway on this night Fred was not near her, he was at his home and she was in the mother and child side of the hospital. The head nurse was in her chambers taking a “nap” and was only to be called when there was an emergency. The doctor in charge had left for his quarters near the hospital. No one seemed to question him seeing he was quite the arrogant one, even the head nurse! Anita being at the bottom of the food chain together with six other nurses were left to man the ward.
At around eleven a screech of tires was heard followed by a mad rush into the clinic.
“Nurse! Nurse!” The man shouted at the top of his lungs. “Help, my wife…”. The nurses needed no more information. A stretcher was rushed outside and the lady was helped onto it. She was rushed into the delivery room in a split second. Anita’s heart thudded in her chest. There seemed to be incessant ringing in her ears. This was not the first time she had seen a woman in labor but the effect seemed never to wear off.
Anita automatically got into delegation and command mode despite there being two nurses senior to her around. This was how she handled situations she felts she could not handle!
“Linda, go get Cheche (the head nurse)here. Mary, alert Dr. Kitoto and get him back here this instant! Theresa and Dorcas get all we need we have a baby to deliver!”
This left her and Gladys alone. Gladys took a quick history as Anita helped Eve into the hospital clothes. She checked how far along Eve was and was shocked to find her nine centimetres dilated, the baby would be there any time. Eve had been in labor since five in the morning but had chosen to hold on for as long as possible. Such cases were common as women thought the hospital bill would be insurmountable if they spent hours in labor in an hospital.
As she dressed Eve, Anita noticed a swelling on her lower abdomen; a tell tale sign of a full bladder. Eve attempted urinating in the bed pan but only few drops were released. She had to be catheterized since such a full bladder was not only uncomfortable but could also delay the baby’s descent. Cheche or Dr. Kitoto would be there soon, they could do it, Eve resolved silently. Five minutes passed with no signs of help and Anita had to do something. Gladys refused to do it. Her hands were visibly shacking and her eyes almost completely out of their sockets. Theresa and Dorcas had come and left to check what was taking so long with Nurse Cheche and the doctor .
With no option left, Anita did her first catheterization and copious amounts of urine flowed out as the swelling visibly grew smaller. Five minutes later Eve was crowning. The point of no return had been reached and passed. Ann had to do this herself. Eve’s wailing and cries ceased after several minutes when she received her bundle of joy. It was a boy. With no second to spare Cheche and Kitoto arrived to find the matter finished and the case closed.
Later in the night Linda and Theresa explained why they had taken so long to get help. Cheche had sneaked to Dr. Kitoto’s house for a romantic dinner and had never expected to be caught. That was until two nurses came banging at the door crying for help. Cheche was never harsh to the six nurses again for reasons known only to them. Even Fred never got to know anything about it even after he had dated Anita for most of the internship period.
“Are you not part of the orientation team?” Whispered a girl to Anita and effectively breaking her trance.“We are leaving now for the vice chancellor’s address!”
Anita quickly let go of the book she had been hugging. She was quite embarrassed to be caught in such a position. It had only been ten minutes but it felt like they had spent hours in this section.
Later in the day, Anita called Fred whom she had lost contact with for years. After his wedding, she had moved to the UK and never had they seen each other. The number did not go through. As she maneuvered herself through rush hour traffic, she made a plan to re-connect with her old friends. They formed part of her life she would forever cherish! A part that gave her identity.
“ When we were young…” she hummed as traffic finally started moving.
Did you read Episode one of this series?? Find it here…ALIVE with Anita