The Boy With The Golden Ears

When l arrived at the hospital, l met the nurses and did the necessary registration for the day. Then l waited. I waited, and waited and waited. When l got unsettled by the unusual long wait, I asked the nurses when it would be my turn to be attended to.

The Boy With The Golden Ears

By Adeola Aderounmu

Adeola_4years_old

Adeola Aderounmu

In 1986 as a 14-year-old boy, I took the bus and went to the General Hospital in Lagos for an ear operation. It was supposed to be the end to a series of visits and appointments at the hospital. When l was born, my ears were not ready. The defects were so obvious that my ear tunnels were usually loaded with yellowish fluids.

My childhood memories would be totally incomplete without the agonies of my mother who sat and watched my infant head decorated with 2 defective ears.

I remember my childhood, during the primary school days. I was always loaded with cotton wools at home and sometimes l took them to school. Soon l learnt how to wrap cotton wool around a broom stick and stuck them into my ears right and left.

On so many occasions we ran out of cotton wools. What did l do? I turned to the cover of my BIC pen. The lid became my best companion for several years. If l didn’t have anything on me, l had the lid of a blue, black or red BIC pen.

I stuck the object into my ears and excavated tons of fluids from them. When l found cotton buds later in life, l used them. They were valuable, like gold.

When l look back now, l am so grateful to my mother for all the efforts she put into cleaning my ears. I can remember she warned me against the sharp objects. Sometimes she just looked at me with pity because in my case, it was similar to living with someone with an addiction.

I mean with my ear problem, when the urge to put in something into my ears surfaced, there was nothing in the whole world you could do to stop me from inserting any available object into it.

I am also grateful that l wasn’t classified as a handicap because Nigeria could have destroyed me totally in that sense. I was lucky not to be categorized as someone who needed special education because of my hearing difficulties.

Prior to that day-the day of the operation, l’ve learnt to wake up at 5 a.m. in the morning, joined the bus and made the journey from our home in Festac Town to the General Hospital situated at Ikeja. We, that is my mother and l usually get off the molue buses at the PWD bus-stop and then trek beside the bridge all the way to the hospital.

It was an inconvenient journey. It was not totally safe because it was always still quiet with few people on the way by the time we walked beside the bridge towards the hospital. My estimation puts the journey at about a 40 km stretch, maybe 50. It could take an hour and a half with at least 2 or 3 bus connections.

On the day of the operation, my mother let me made the journey by myself. She would come after me later on. I don’t remember the sequence that led to the decision but if you are a mother of 6 children, you soon learn to make them independent at the appropriate age.

I would imagine now that l had won my independence by the time the doctors decided that l would be operated to correct my ears.

When l arrived at the hospital, l met the nurses and did the necessary registration for the day. Then l waited. I waited, and waited and waited. When l got unsettled by the unusual long wait, I asked the nurses when it would be my turn to be attended to.

The response l got was a shock, one that l will never forget.

This is the hospital l have visited several times with my mother. I had become a regular customer. In fact, one day l got a tiny piece of fish bone stuck to my throat whilst eating some delicious meal. I could not sleep that night and my mother had to take me to the ENT.

I knew the Ear, Nose and Throat department at the General Hospital in Ikeja like l knew the palm of my hand.

When they told me that they couldn’t find my file and the documentation that stated that l would be operated on that fateful day, l thought it was a “simple” mistake of misplacement. I thought they would find it and my ears would be operated.

When my mother arrived she was very upset. She gave me a correctional slap to express her anger. I cannot remember any other day before and after this fateful day that my mother had slapped me. She never did.

As a child l was very confused.

The nurses could not find my files. Who should have been slapped?

Now when l think back about the entire scenario, l can guess a few reasons why my files were missing.

One, the nurses were probably in shock that a boy showed up for his own surgery. Where was my mother who could pay the tips so my file does not go missing on this important day?

Two, from another perspective, were they expecting that my family would have made advance contact and advance payment prior to the day of the operation? How well did my parents realize that such opportunities must be “assured” by keeping a tab on the nurses and doctors to avoid disappointments?

Why did my file go missing on the day of the operation?

Three, did the doctors chicken out because they were incapable of carrying out the operation? The last statement is quite unlikely because my memories portray an array of competent, professional doctors with tools and instruments checking my eardrums, ear infections and throat as an out-patient.

Still, why didn’t the doctors remember my appointment? An operation should not be something that one should just forget like that? Why didn’t the doctors come to the waiting-room to look for me? Did the nurses tell them that l was no show?

What actually went wrong? My mother slapped me because she found me sitting calm and collected despite the scenario of likely missing my one-in-a-life time opportunity of correcting my defective ears. She probably knew at once that the chance will never come up again.

Many things must have gone through her mind when she arrived to hear the latest bad news about my ears. They easiest avenue to let go of her frustration was the slap l got. She probably thought l just got there and sat down without making any effort?

What can a 14-year-old do when the old nurses had thrown away or hidden his medical files?

I can’t remember ever getting angry at my mother. She was my god. She was the woman who taught me almost everything-how to read, how to write and then how to cook. My mother taught me humility and perseverance even in the face of difficulties and adversities.

So we went home. There was no operation in 1986. I continue to insert everything into my ears to take out the fluids and to “scratch” my ears when they itched. At some point, l used sticks and brooms to pick out dirt that are fastened to my eardrums.

I thought l had become an expert of my ear. If l was an ear doctor, l would be the best in the world.

I remember one day when I was picking my ear with a broom stick and suddenly somebody ran into me. I bled from my ear and of course that was also another opportunity to insert more things to bring out the blood. My addiction was hopeless.

I have been living in Sweden since 2002. I continued to suffer regular ear infection because of the vulnerability of my eardrums. So one day when l visited the doctor, he recommended an operation. I mean my ears were tested over a period of time and the results l saw were heartbreaking.

I have been straining myself almost all of my life to hear what people say.  The results l saw showed the threshold for normal hearing and my hearing. I have been deaf!

In 2007, 21 years after the nurses at Ikeja General Hospital botched my scheduled operation in Lagos, I finally did my ear operation, in Stockholm. One of my ears was already gone at that time! After the operation it became the better of the two. This means that in the real sense of it, the ear that was better before my operation in 2007 was itself gone! They were just deaf to different degree.

The operation was done at Danderyds hospital in Sweden.

At old age, which is fast approaching, l guess l know what my biggest challenges will be.

I have a bad hip from playing football in my teens and will definitely not be able to walk well. I can use some help. I will also be almost deaf on both ears. I will get some hearing aids but their usefulness for my deafness will be interesting to discover.

I decided to write elaborately on my deafness because it exposes a lot of problems in public health in Nigeria. I don’t know how my case was handled as a toddler. Could l have been operated as a baby and healed for life? That is probable.

But with time, I became aware that despite the availability of good health system in Nigerian up till the 1980s, there were lapses in the system that made it difficult to correct my hearing defect. That part was unfortunate.

An operation was botched. One friend told me my death on the doctor’s table was postponed! But I trusted the health system in Nigeria in 1986, even though the nurses were mischievous.  I blame the botched operation on the nurses. I think they were insincere and that is so sad to remember now.

What is the present state of health care delivery in Nigeria? In one word, disaster!

Nigerian politicians and policy makers must think about the citizens and work hard to ensure that health care delivery system is improved and adapted to the demands of a fully-blown rural and urban populations. The ordinary citizens must be given the benefits of affordable health care system where life is a priority.

As a teenager, I risk my life and travelled the miles. Then l walked the roads to the doctors in Lagos, Nigeria. I am the man with the golden ears.

If any Nigerian politician, including the president, wishes to travel abroad for medical reasons, they should be barred from doing so. In a country of more than 170m people, politicians who cannot deliver should be dismissed. They even deserved my mother’s correctional slaps.

aderounmu@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

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The APC-Mandate: One Year Of Extreme Pain

What Nigerians have experienced in 2016 alone is by all measure the worst year of the Nigerian life (in a time of “peace”). This unitary system of government is so, so wrong! It is a product of intellectual deficiency that arose from lazy, corrupt and unproductive minds.

The APC-Mandate: One Year Of Extreme Pain

By Adeola Aderounmu

Adeola_June_2016

Adeola Aderounmu

One year after the official emergence of the APC mandate, the most unexpected scenarios are here. The current situation in Nigeria today was unimaginable 12 months ago when the expectations and stakes were raised through the emergence of the APC mandate.

Everyone including PDP addicts knew that the PDP years were totally messed up. But no one expected that as the clean-up started under the APC-Buhari mandate that the situation will deteriorate to a state that has now (also) made nonsense of the APC campaigns and promises.

Even my invented slogan that the 1999-2015 PDP years were the worst years of the Nigerian life had been beaten flat. What Nigerians have experienced in 2016 alone is by all measure the worst year of the Nigerian life (in a time of peace).

What led to these unexpected new lows of general sufferings is arguable. But the degradation of human life, extremely high cost of living and endless surges of joy-killers like the fuel-related problems are both sad and regrettable.

My opinion is that if there had been adequate proactive-ness, Nigerians would not be suffering more today than they already did under the wasteful 16 years of PDP. The APC-Buhari mandate was ill-equipped for the year that went by.  Therefore the mandate becomes a questionable one, I’m afraid.

My opinion is premised upon the fact that the APC-mandate and the rest of us had a clear understanding of what the challenges ahead were. We knew that Nigeria was in bad shape. Our collective expectation was that things should not get worse because they were already bad.

The APC-mandate failed to curb a bad situation. So it grew worse and it’s still going down the road to perdition in so many uncountable ways.

What enlightened and knowledgeable Nigerians must do now is to see the current situation in Nigeria as an opportunity to access the country right from 1960 to date. Why Nigeria got into the mess it is now is no longer rocket science.

Primarily, the country was misruled by almost all the regimes that have held sway at one time or the other after independence in 1960. As if the colonial drainage was not enough albeit side-a-side remarkable infrastructure development, the indigenes of Nigeria chose to simply loot the country to dryness.

As you read, Nigeria is being looted by some elements either directly by their positions in government or indirectly by the failure of the system to curb external appendages of looting.

The crime of looting is so grave that the recovered cash that was revealed recently by the APC government is a tip of the iceberg of what actually disappeared under both the APC- and the PDP-states in the last 17 years.

Politicians on both fronts practically emptied the states treasuries daily. At the parasitic center, the Jonathan-led central PDP government wasted and looted Nigeria’s monies in no manner that were different from his predecessors both civilians and military.

Everything that has a beginning will have an end. When the APC-Buhari mandate is over (because it will be), we will surely be informed of how much went down the drain daily. That, and what went down in the APC terrains whilst PDP held swayed are top secret today. We are looking the other way because the bulk of the latter brought Mr. Buhari to power.

In Nigeria, anybody who is elected or selected as the president can play god. It’s all thanks to the system. But I love the concept of time and truth. They outlive everyone and everything.

Apart from the fact that Nigeria was misruled and looted, there is the other factor of running a political system and constitution constructed by the military juntas.

Some people may still want to argue in favour of unitary government. This is a system that continues to feed the elites, the politicians and their accomplices. On the other hand the system puts hunger, death and sorrows at the doorsteps of the common people.

The strongest argument against unitary government cannot be missed: One man cannot rule Nigeria! The last one year provided the most visible evidence and the end of the first APC-mandate will nail it.

The one man show is not going to lead Nigeria further. He has ministers, yes, but they can’t do anything if that one man does not approve.

There are state governors, yes, but they cannot do anything if their begging plates are not filled by that one man.

This system is so, so wrong! It is a product of intellectual deficiency that arose from lazy, corrupt and unproductive minds.

This system is no longer acceptable and it is very unreasonable. It has not worked and it will not work. Nigerians have a way of hoping in the midst of hopelessness. The results? More than 100 m poor people, a disgraceful world record accumulation of poor people in Africa!

Summarily, the APC-mandate is doing worse than the PDP-mandate because of a system that promotes corruption, looting and incompetency. Again the unitary system of government is ridiculous and devoid of intellectual-problem solving approaches. It is so bad even the current minister of solid mineral resources cannot guarantee wealth production from solid minerals in the next 5 years!!!

For several years now, some people have suggested a change in the system of government but those calls fell on deaf ears. The politicians are not going to willingly change a system that makes them fat and rich.

In recent days some prominent Nigerians including those who have benefited from the fraudulent unitary system of government have joined us in singing: restructure Nigeria!

It took so long for the chorus to emerge and one wonders how long it will be before the actualisation.

The APC-mandate under Mr. Buhari must not act as if it is deaf because the music is too loud: change the system!

Of course we know it will not happen in one night. We know that it is a process. What is important at this stage is to ensure that the process is initiated using the right institutions and appropriate agencies.

There are so many options for Nigeria and they are far more preferable than the agitations in the different regions that have metamorphosed into wars (in form of terrorism in the North, the so-called militancy in the South and the unending secession in the East).

Under the current unitary system, the war/agitation/militancy have no end in sight. Even the re-structuring of Nigeria will not heal all wounds automatically. But restructuring is a necessity to avoid the final collapse of Nigeria in a way that is undesirable.  The road that leads back to regional autonomy will be rough, windy and long. Still, it is the better road if well managed.

Those familiar with medical science know the difference between controlled cell-death and uncontrollable cell-death/destruction. Nigeria and Nigerians need to make the choice whilst common sense can still prevail. When all hell is let loose, there will be no room for common sense and negotiations. Necrosis in any country is not desirable.

It is easy to say that corruption is fighting back in form of NDA-militancy. What was fighting in the name of Boko Haram? What had been agitating in the name of Biafra? We must not forget the words of wisdom. If the wall does not open its mouth, the lizard will not crawl in. These walls have been open for too long and a lot of lizards have crawled in. Now several of those lizards have stomach aches.

The benefits of regional autonomy outweigh those of unitary government. The different regions in Nigeria need to start producing wealth again. Nigeria needs to return to the days when 5-10% of regional wealth is sent to the capital for administrative purposes only. Today money is sent to Abuja for siphoning!

All the parasites and leeches in Abuja under this APC-mandate need to do one of their last jobs which is to initiate the re-negotiation of Nigeria and go back home in peace. A time may come when they will return compulsorily. Since there may not be peace at that time, they need not wait that long.

I stand always with the common Nigerians.

The fight for freedom itself is not a day’s job. It may take a few years, it may several years. But like l wrote in The Kings Are Mad, when the time for freedom comes, there will be no going back.

aderounmu@gmail.com