She held his hands as he was wheeled away into the theatre. Tears flowed down her eyes as the man whom she loved more than anything else in the world had his life in the hands of another man who was about to perform a Transoral Incisionless Fundoplication. She was advised to go home as it was going to be a long surgery due to his age and other medical complications. “I’ll rather wait”, she insisted as she proceeded to the waiting area.
They had met 39yrs ago while they were in the university and she fell head over heels in love with him. He was quiet, calm, easygoing and humble. Nothing like the other guys she knew. When he asked her to be his, she kept him waiting for some weeks just to tease him and then she finally gave in.
In less than 18 months they were married and had a roller coaster of a honeymoon. They were an inseparable pair and due to the fact that he was a young and budding business tycoon, they were always in the spotlight but this did not affect their relationships. They weren’t just husband and wife as they treated each other like best friends, brother and sister, father and daughter, mother and son and most importantly, lovers. Many said that their kind of love didn’t happen to everyone. They were so close, it was almost annoying.
Ten years passed and though she was yet to conceive, he remained sweet and loving and he never complained. Even when his family started putting pressure on him over their childlessness, he still remained kind and loving. He never treated her with anger or disgust nor did he stand for such by his relatives towards her. Many nights she had gone to bed crying not because of their childless state but because she was overwhelmed at how unreal his loving attitude was to her in the face of their unfortunate situation. She knew he deeply wanted a child, as there was an obvious void in his heart that only a child of his own could fill. They went to all the best doctors they could find and all the tests results came back the same. “You’re both fine. Keep trying.”
And try they did.
Ten more years passed and nothing changed. She was not pregnant and he was not less loving and supportive. She brought up the idea of adopting kids one night but he didn’t want to hear of it. “If they’re not from you then they’re not meant for me” he had said.
Since they were no kids to look after, they had thrown themselves into work. He was the CEO of a group of companies and so had to attend endless board meetings which caused him to work till very late at night. He never let her work so one boring afternoon she had discovered her love for designing & sewing clothes and started a fashion house. Although she mostly worked from home, it was demanding which was why he agreed to let her do it as it would take her mind off their lack of kids.
One night at about 2.00a.m, she was up looking through sketches that some interns had submitted for the upcoming collection and suddenly her phone rang. She remembered looking at the screen with annoyance. She had employed way too many people to handle calls for the fashion house for it to be a dissatisfied customer.
“Can I please speak to Agatha Ohalete” the voice on the other end asked.
“Yes this is she.”
“We need you to please come to St Luke Hospital, urgently.”
“Who is on the line please?” she asked slightly alarmed.
“I’m Nurse Efe. Mr. Ohalete collapsed at his office and was rushed in. As soon as he was conscious, he asked us to call you.”
She immediately jumped up, knocking over the glass of wine she had been sipping from, causing its contents to spill over the papers she had been looking at. Without thinking, she ran out of the house, into her car and sped off to the hospital.
On getting to the hospital, she asked the nurse about her husband, Mr. Ohalete. She was asked to wait while she got a doctor. She was pensive. After what must have been about 15mins, Dr. Smith came and took her to private room 107, asked her to sit down and offered her a glass of water. “Doctor, can you just tell me what exactly is wrong with Nnamdi?” She asked anxiously, almost ignoring the drink offered her.
“He came in two weeks ago, complaining of chest pains, heartburns, nausea and trouble swallowing. I prescribed some drugs for him and told him to let me know how he felt in a couple of days. He came back complaining that the pains had gotten worse and the drugs had done nothing. To get a proper idea of what might be wrong, we took X-rays of his chest and throat and upon our findings we performed an Endoscopy and discovered that your husband is suffering from Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). It normally shouldn’t be serious but he has a few complications and underlying conditions that we are currently looking into to ascertain what we are dealing with.”
She almost fainted. Nnamdi had never mentioned that he was in any sort of pain. She had noticed that he had stopped eating as much and as often as he used to and that a few times he would clutch his chest but whenever she asked, he would smile and say that he was giving old age a run for her money.
As soon as the disease was confirmed, he was started on Pantoprazole and Gaviscon. Thankfully he was discharged the day after and told to come again after ten days. She put the drama of the fashion house aside and became his nurse. On the ninth day, he was taking a nap and he suddenly woke up moving wildly, clutching his chest with his mouth wide open like he was struggling to breathe. She rushed him back to the hospital.
After attending to him, the doctor asked her to come with him to a private room and the look on his face told her that it wasn’t going to be pretty. “He is asthmatic. It has stayed hidden all along and has only come about by the weakening of his respiratory tracts. We will have to perform a Nissen Fundoplication as soon as possible because medication would not be sufficient. We need your approval for this.”
Without thinking, she signed the papers and gave them the go ahead. A few more days of tests and he was wheeled in for surgery. A few more trips like this to the operating room came over the years. Rehabilitations in India every few months and a lot of expensive drugs also followed. They were spending more money than both his companies and her fashion house were making and she had to apply for loans.
As all this went on, his health continued to deteriorate and the intensity of the pains he complained of increased. Nothing they did seemed worth it. His relatives had deserted them. She vividly remembered one of them referring to him as a lost cause but no, he was her Nnamdi. She couldn’t stop trying, believing and hoping that he would be better. She loved him too much.
“Ma’am…..Ma’am…..he is out of surgery and is presently in recovery.”
His Transoral Incisionless Fundoplication was done. This was a more technical surgery and it was usually done for a minor number of cases of GERD but Nnamdi had asked the doctor to do it after his Nissen Fundoplication had been unsuccessful. The doctor agreed at his insistence.
“Madam, I am afraid this is going to be the last procedure we can do for him. After this he will have to be on medications alone and just go home and take it easy. I suggest you see another doctor for a second opinion if you feel I am not giving you the best but I can assure you that they will say the same thing. It is the last resort” Dr Smith said.
This lowered her expectations and after a gruelling 10hrs, Nnamdi awoke and asked for water. He was tired, heck, he looked tired. That was what 5 years of hopelessness and countless procedures could do to you. As soon as he was discharged, they went back home and she continued to nurse him. Her entire life revolved around him. They spent as much time as they could together whenever he felt up for it. He was still in a lot of pain but the meds helped keep it under control.
One morning he started to complain about pain again in his teeth and chest but this time he said it was worse than it normally was. She had him lie down and proceeded to contact the doctor. “You can give him a double dosage of Ibuprofen and we’ll send someone to see him as soon as possible.”
She did as she was instructed but the pain did not stop. A doctor came over and gave him more pain killers but to no avail. He cried until he fell asleep. She cried too, her heart was in pain for him.
The doctor had given him 3months to live after it had been found that he had a stricture that had narrowed his oesophagus and his breathing was declining by the day. There was no medical help for this and he just had to wait till he breathed his last.
This was when he called her and told her what he had in mind to do. She immediately got upset and asked him to never speak of such again. He begged her for days and tried to make her understand. “Agatha, please. It hurts so much. Many nights, the pain makes it impossible for me to sleep. I look at you and it breaks my heart to see that all you do is nurse me. All my teeth feel like they’re not mine. My chest hurts so bad, it feels like I might drop dead the next second. My heart feels…it’s really difficult to breathe. I can’t eat because swallowing hurts and so all I do is regurgitate. Sometimes I’m so nauseous, I feel like I’ve already fainted. I feel like my body is being punished for a heinous crime and my mind is trapped to suffer. Please…” he coughed with pain in his eyes and whispered with the little strength he could muster, “…Please.”
She went to church and prayed, weeping profusely. Life had been very unfair to both of them. They didn’t deserve any of the things that they had gone through. Nnamdi was too kind-hearted for this misfortune. She prayed and prayed until she was spent and then she left and went back home to meet him.
The next morning, she went out to get everything they needed and rushed back home. Nnamdi was still asleep and then she woke him up ever so gently. He weakly smiled at her as he woke up and hugged her. He asked for his Whisky which she had duly brought for him. He opened the bottle, put it to his lips and took three gulps.
He then handed her the bottle and noticed that she was shaking.
“Dont be afraid. You’ll be fine.” he said with a smile.
“I need you to do this. You know that right?” She nodded slowly.
Then he closed his eyes, smiled and whispered “I love you.”
She took his wrist, injected him with a syringe labelled “Sodium Thiopental” and watched him drift into unconsciousness as she whispered “I love you too.”
Tears drifted down her cheeks but she was comforted by the fact that he looked happy.
Three minutes later, she drew a deep breath and then pumped him with Pancuronium Bromide which she was told will cause muscle paralysis and respiratory arrest. His body jerked a little and then he lay still.
Watching that felt like someone had twisted a knife in her heart.
She lifted his body up to her and hugged him ever so closely feeling the heavy, slow beats of his heart. She whimpered as tears ran down her face.
She laid him back down and finally sent Potassium Chloride coursing through his veins to stop his heart.
She had granted his wish.
Have you ever had a friend or family member in so much pain that you just wished you’ll wake up one day and they’ll have gone away to rest?
Sadly it is a crime to perform euthanasia on anyone in Nigeria but at times it might just be the only way out.
Do share a comment with us both on the story written or any personal similar experiences using the comment box.
This story was written as usual by @Ms_BeeA and @bule_jr.