BACKLASH: There Was A Force Majeure Last Week
I WAS off air last week. It is not in my character to exit rudely; I always try to issue some kind of notice. It was actually a force majeure. And it went this way. This Backlash stuff you people read every Sunday and then send SMS to either abuse or praise me is usually put together early on Saturdays.
Same with the Sunday Narrative. As the cliché goes, I was hale and hearty on the morning of Friday, August 7. I even had my usual round of morning exercises.
At 4 pm, there was still no indication that anything was amiss. I went for lunch or lunchdin (taken as a combination of lunch and dinner.) I had beans and dodo and it was cool. Suddenly, something snapped. I started having a feeling of general discomfort. It was very close to the kind of feeling you get when you have too much whiskey on empty stomach or when you had a real serious bout with Bacchus, the god of wine, the night before. That thing they call hangover effect in popular language.
I did not drink any alcohol that day. In fact, I had said before on this page that if I drink a bottle of beer today, it could take another two months to have a second bottle. And so, what could be wrong with me on this fateful day? Could it be stress? Perhaps, the food I had was not enough. I reached for a piece of fish pie I had earlier appropriated from my COO, Dr. Alexander Thomopolus and munched. I washed it down with a can of Amstel Malt and waited for relief, which did not come. I removed my shoes and unfastened my belt to gain more oxygen. I even sat under the A/C, but still no relief. I was not feverish and so the idea of malaria was farfetched in my calculation, and even more so, after a dose of camosunate (Artesunate Combination Therapy, ACT) only a month ago. I prayed.
Time was now 8pm. I had dismissed my driver for the day and a bigger challenge was how to navigate for about 10 minutes back to the house. I prayed again. I managed, anyhow, to get home. My wife tried to be very nice. “Take some water and have your bath and you will be fine,” she said with a tint of clinical finality. It would not pay to be argumentative in this kind of situation. Every piece of prescription was fine. For the first time in many years, I went under the shower to have a cold bath.
Pressure had started building up in my stomach and I felt like vomiting. There was also this false feeling that relief would come if I regurgitated everything I had eaten and so, I even tried to induce it. For close to 10 minutes I was doing wruooo… waaaaa! wruooo… waaaaa! My wife pressed her palm hard against my back and pushed down the spine to the waist region. I couldn’t vouch for the efficacy of that piece of physiotherapy. It is believed to calm the bowels and the throat in such upsets. I think it is more superstitious than it is clinical. My grandmother used to apply it back in the village then after ramming some bitter pills down my throat in treatment of whatever illness and I would look set to bring back the drugs the same way I had swallowed them.
My head was still spinning against all hopes. “Do I drive you to the hospital? my wife dutifully suggested.” Instead of grabbing the offer with both hands, I chose to be macho. “No, no, no, I will be fine. It can’t be malaria; I am suspecting it is some kind of upset, which will wear off before tomorrow. I will be fine.” And as if something in my system yielded to that consolation, some calm immediately came. I asked for a cup of beverage and settled for the 10 pm Channels TV news.
I struggled to sustain the newfound calmness in spite of myself. Midway into the news telecast, I got drowsy and went to bed. I woke up at about 4 am, but couldn’t tell, which between nightmare and sound sleep recorded more hours. In a nutshell, the agony had returned reinvigorated by dawn. It had clearly gone past the level of home management. I sent for the driver, got to the office still optimistic that some benevolent spirit would intervene to deliver instant healing that would put me in a stead to deliver Backlash for readers the following day.
That didn’t happen quite unfortunately and I was at the hospital the next hour explaining to a desk attendant why I needed to see a doctor very fast. It took some time, because another out-patient, a young lady in her late 20s, engaged the equally young doctor longer than usual. I was on edge and actually got pushed to ask the nurse on duty if they didn’t have any way of profiling out-patients and understanding who is most stressed and should see the doctor immediately.
“Sorry sir!” But my query kind of catalysed the processes and I was led to see the doctor the next moment. I explained my experience in the last 24 hours. He scribbled down some notes and then explained that the lab section had shut down till Monday and as such my blood sample would not be taken for laboratory analysis to guide precisely the prescription. That wasn’t a problem. After all, much of medical practice in terms of prescription and drug administration is enlightened guess work based on the experiences of the practitioner when a set of symptoms is presented by the patient.
The doctor did his bit and directed me to the pharmacists and nurse for dispensing and administration. “You are going to have anti-malaria injection for three days,” the nurse announced. The two doses of anti-malaria and analgesics were done piam! Piam! I went for the accompanying drugs and then something snapped again! I started throwing up again. It came with such a force and suddenness that I could not quickly pace to the toilet, a few metres away, to do the discharging. I did it right at the spot I was standing to receive the drugs. It was some real mess and I caused the cleaners to worker extra for their salaries that day. I was guided back to the doctor for something more serious. I was infused with a hypodermic needle preparatory for intravenous treatment of quinine and antibiotics.
Ladies and gentlemen, that was how I was detained for two days at the hospital. And that was why I could not serve our usual Sunday, Sunday recipe. I am really very sorry for the unintended embarrassment. I am now a lot better, although the doctor, expectedly, has said I should take it easy in a country where nothing, including the air we breathe comes easy.
In any case, I was going to say last week that this fire-fighting approach to macroeconomics management by the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele is not sustainable. Even in totalitarian states, foreign exchange regimes are not decreed or even administered. They evolve more or less based on certain economic fundamentals. This thing that Mr. Emefiele is tackling with so many administrative theories and getting everybody confused could be as simple as a.b.c.
Nobody gives what he or she does not have. If Nigeria produces and exports far more than it imports, the naira will strengthen and even climb to one to a US dollar. Short and simple and it is exactly the way to present the matter to young Nigerians in secondary to help them understand the concept of foreign exchange balancing in their elementary economics class.
This ban this, ban that, in a global economy where Nigeria is aspiring to play a major role is not going to work. We are in a global market and people are free to go to market with whatever currency in their possession. Make your own naira the currency of choice by volition and not by compulsion.
How can the Naira be strong when all the anti-malaria drugs, including, perhaps, pain killers, administered on me in the hospita may have been imported from either China or IndiaThat is the point. We shall return fully to this some other day.