A 23years old girl was referred from a peripheral hospital to the ER in a teaching hospital. She was brought in an ambulance with her mother and 2 siblings. The patient was dehydrated and very ill-looking. The relatives were anxious. After reading the referral, we found out-patient had been screened for sickle-cell and she was SC.
I called the mother to speak with her after attending to the girl and this is how the conversation went.
Me: Maame please do you know what condition your daughter is suffering from?
Mother : No I don’t. The doctor didn’t tell me.
Me: Maame did you ask the doctor?
Mother: “She grins shyly” no I didn’t
Me: Maame what caused you to send your daughter to the hospital?
Mother : She suffers from rheumatism. It comes every time the weather gets cold. She started experiencing rheumatism at an early age. She suffers a lot. Her dad also had the same condition but he is dead. But this time she also complained of severe headache.
Me: Maame all these years, how have you been managing her rheumatism?
Mother : We use local ointments to massage her
Me: Maame your daughter is suffering from a condition called Sickle cell. It affects the blood.
(She cuts in )
Mother: I believe it is spiritual. You see she is a twin. But her twin sister is fine. As for her, she has always been sick. I think someone is behind it spiritually.
Me: No Maame, She inherited it from your husband and you. (Further explanations were given her)
Do you see the picture?
What is wrong with this story?
- So many Ghanaians are suffering from Sickle-cell without knowing that they have the condition.
- There are many Ghanaians who go to the hospital when sick, see the doctor in the Consulting room and all they are waiting for are the medications that will be given them at the end. They are not so keen on knowing what the problem is, why they are having the condition and how it can be managed.
But this attitude of “not being bothered” about what could be wrong with you is what is bringing us back to the same conditions over and over again.
So when next you go to the hospital to get treatment, make sure you know these 5 things before leaving.
1. The condition you are suffering from.
2. What caused you to have the condition?
3. What are the options for managing the condition.
4. What are the side-effects of the management/treatment options.
5. How can you prevent the condition from coming again.
- On the other hand, the doctors and nurses have a duty to inform and educate you on these five things whenever you visit the hospital to seek treatment. So ask and let them teach you.
- This girl’s condition was poorly managed due to ignorance on the part of the mother and irresponsibility on the part of the health professionals who treated her before.
- Parents, be your children’s advocate in the hospital. Ask questions and seek answers on their behalf.