Bello's Journey to Wellness — Part 4

June 14, 2017

This is the final part to a composite story of what a typical patient at Meskine Hospital experiences. The name has been changed, but the story presents the huge difference in health care from our area of Cameroon and the West.

Part 4

I had heard that The Meskine Hospital had a ‘poor fund’ for those patients who had absolutely no means of payment. Unfortunately, the nurses told me that many family members try to convince the person in charge of the poor fund of their need when they are perfectly able to pay their bills. The nurse said that is why they don’t let the westerners be in charge of that fund – they are too soft hearted and gullible.

As I got settled in my bed, my wife situated her mat on the floor at the foot of my bed where she would sleep for the night along with the family members of the other patients who did the same. Each patient was allowed one person to attend to his needs, but many families didn’t observe that rule having two or more people, and some mothers had their infants with them. It was a challenge for the nurses to do their nighttime patient care with aisles crowded. You can imagine how noisy a night I had.

The next morning, I saw the doctor who decided that I needed surgery that day. I explained that I didn’t have the money with me, but that I could sell a sheep. They took my word for it and trusted me because my condition would worsen if treatment was delayed. I was thankful because one of my cousins died at another hospital because they delayed surgery until it was paid for. The money came two days later, but it was too late for him.

The cost of the operation was $100. The same operation in other places would have been $200 to $300. Thankfully, I had sheep to sell.

The operation went very well. I was in a lot of pain afterwards, but they gave me the only pain medication available. It gave me some relief. They continued to give me IV medications, and changed my dressing every day. I recovered without any complications. My wife always wanted to change my linens and help me with bed baths, but I hurt too much for all that. She insisted after the 3rd day.

After six days, I was released. My incision looked good. The nurse recommended that we stay in the living area or pavilion designated for discharged patients who may not be ready to travel home (there is no charge). They said the rough journey back home would not be the best thing for my surgical wound. My cousin sold one of my sheep and sent the money to us via Express Union. We paid our bill and were good to go.

We stayed one more week and made lots of friends.. The pavilion is a big building with about 6 or 7 rooms with cement walls and floors and no furnishings. Most patients sleep on their own mats or mattresses. Some had traveled a lot farther than we had – 2 or more days. So I felt like one of the lucky ones.

The Meskine Hospital has become my hospital from here on out. The people really care about the patients and want to see them get well. No one has ever prayed for me like they did. They let me watch a film about Isa Almasiihu (Jesus Christ) from my bed while I was there. In other hospitals I’ve been to, the staff was rude, and I had to pay bribes to receive my medicine. I loved the way the people at this hospital took care of me. From now on I will definitely tell my friends to go to the Meskine Hospital.

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