Under the Second Knife: A journalist’s hospital diary (1)

Anxiety gripped me shortly after it became glaring that I must go through the knife for the second time so as to save my leg from being cut off. Since the day I received the sad news, sleep hardly came, even when I tried.

Abubakar, before the accident

Abubakar, before the accident

The confirmation came barely a year after the first failed surgery.

On Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015, I was hit by an articulated vehicle at Oregun/Ojota road, Lagos, where I sustained an oblique fracture on my right thigh and a dislocation on my left ankle.

The operation was successfully carried out at the Trauma and Burns centre of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, (Lasuth) annex, Gbagada. However,  the unfortunate occurred. There was either ‘no’ or ‘delayed’ union, in-between the bones which prevented healing for more than a year. Thisl was caused by an infection.

Abubakar on hospital bed after a dangerous encounter with an articulated vehicle at Ojota, Lagos.

Abubakar on hospital bed after a dangerous encounter with an articulated vehicle at Ojota, Lagos.

‘Are you afraid of going through the knife again?’ my doctor asked me.

‘That is the way out, because the  implant has been infected, and it might have affected the bone. We need to act fast to prevent it from spreading to other part’ he explained.

Of course, I was really scared! Thinking about what I had gone through in the last one year, it was a hell.

I thought about the persistent pains and the agonies of staying indoor for that long; as if I was in a prison; how I was callously abandoned by my beloved company – a popular entertainment magazine, among other unpalatable experiences.

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But I lied to my doctor.

”Me? Scared? Why should I be? After all, I’ve been  through it before. I am only worried about starting all over. What is the assurance that there won’t be another ‘delayed union’ again.”

These, among other thoughts culminated into my fears but my doctor assured me, ‘we’ll try our best. May God make it easy for us.’

The date of the second surgery was fixed at the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi, Lagos.

Without doubt, the hospital is one of the finest but very costly specialised trauma centres in Nigeria. Everything about the hospital is money. At the time, the dollar scarcity had affected the cost of every item needed for the operation, including the needle.

Abubakar. Now

Abubakar. Now

I was really depressed but I had no choice. Through the support of friends and family, I was able to raise over N700, 000 for the new surgery after spending more than a million naira for the initial one.

‘Young man, the implant in your body will be replaced with external fixation’, said the Consultant in charge, noting that, ‘the leg has been infected. And it is possible you have short leg, after the surgery, depending on the level the infection has penetrated into  your leg.’

My mood suddenly changed following this development. I had been carrying the implant for more than a year but I didn’t understand what the doctor meant by ‘external fixation’.

I queried my doctor-friend, who had been rendering selfless services to me,  ‘what does it mean?’

Obviously, he didn’t know how better to explain it to me. He looked around, saw some patients that came for clinic, with the kind of external fixation to be used for me, and then said; ‘Ah-ah, that’s it!’

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‘Ah!’ Is this the external fixation? God knows, I don’t like it’, I exclaimed in a loud voice. But did I have a choice? Of course, No!

The external fixation really looks like a ‘TV antenna’, that’s the best way to describe it as a layman. It is drilled into the bone as seen in the picture (below). It looks horrible and scary – but in reality it is an externally adjusted device used to ensure the bones remain in an optimal position during the healing process.

Google search: External fixator for open tibia fracture.

Google search: External fixator for open tibia fracture.

Everything seemed new to me. As if I had not experienced this kind of surgery before. Perhaps because I was unconscious during the first operation, hence I didn’t know what went on.

I didn’t even know that I had to sign a consent form, since it was done on my behalf during the initial procedure.

Now, I must accept whatever option offered as a prerequisite for me to walk again!

Actually, I am not trying to brag but I must say that that being a notable entertainment journalist didn’t affect my spiritual life.

I belong to a leading Muslim students’ body and I have written books addressing Islamic matters. Thus, my brethren in faith were very much concerned about my health. They organised special prayers for me on several occasions, particularly for the doctors to get it right this time.

I remembered how hundreds of Muslim faithful stormed Lasuth, when I was first admitted. It didn’t take time for the hospital staff to realise who their new patient was. That’s one of the reasons many of the faithful, including my mother, weren’t informed about the second surgery, and those who knew were either prevented or discouraged from visiting. They were rather enjoined to remember me in their prayers, just as my very good friend,  Amir K did when he was performing umrah (lesser hajj)  in Makkah.

None can escape death. It may come at any time, anywhere, suddenly. It can arrive at a time when no one is close by, or where those who are present are not the next of kin, says Khurram Murad in his last will, entitled, ‘Dying and Living for Allah’.

…This is just the beginning


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By Rasheed Abubakar

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