I thought people who heard me speak on my last home assignment would be interested in an update on Abderamane, the man who had a fractured leg and arm after a motorbike accident and who had sought 7 months of treatment with a traditional healer (which didn’t work) before coming to be treated at Guinebor. When I returned to Chad last November, Abderamane had already left the hospital after receiving surgery on his leg and subsequently his arm. Apparently, all had gone well. It wasn’t until the start of February that I saw a guy on crutches at the entrance to the hospital and I thought to myself ‘I recognise that guy’…..It was Abderamane! Full of smiles and walking adeptly on his crutches, he told me he had come for a check-up with the surgeon. He welcomed me back to Chad (well, he wasn’t to know I’d already been back 3 months!) and asked if I’d had a good time in the UK. A few days later, a Wednesday, we were going around the inpatient wards praying for patients as is our habit on a Wednesday morning. We go around in twos or threes offering to pray for patients and I was with one of the male Chadian staff members. There in one of the beds was Abderamane. Turns out that he needed further surgery on his leg. He was happy for me to pray for him and I did so. The guy is amazing, always smiling despite his ongoing health issues with his leg (he broke it back in September 2017, so 18 months ago now). Fast forward to today and I bumped into Abderamane in outpatients! Zipping along nicely on his crutches, he told me he had come for a dressing change. He thanked me for all we’d done for him and I told him it was no problem, it’s what we’re here for. I’m so glad to have had these further brief catch-ups with Abderamane and to hear that he is on his way to recovery and is extremely grateful for the care he received here at Guinebor.
Early the other morning, I called across to Christophe, one of our nurses working in the emergency room, asking if he’d seen Kalbassou (my Cameroonian nurse-surgeon colleague). ‘No’ he replied, ‘but I need him in the ER, we’ve got a young girl here who has been bitten by a panther!’ ‘Really?!’ I exclaimed. Christophe shrugged his shoulders ‘I’m not sure if it’s exactly true but she’s been bitten by something’. I continue on my way, find Kalbassou and ask him to go to the ER. I then get busy in the pharmacy for a while. A few hours later, I leave the pharmacy and am stopped by one of the guards ‘the local mayor and his team are here and want to see the girl who was bitten by a panther, can we let them in?’ I’m not sure that this is really a wise idea, that a hospital is not an entertainment theatre. So, I do what I always do in these situations – I went to ask Kalbassou! ‘Of course, they should come in’ he says and so I pass that message to the guard. Fifteen minutes later I see a gaggle of our staff around the entrance to one of the wards, an unusual sight. I ask one of them what’s going on ‘oh, the mayor was here because there’s a girl in there who was bitten by a panther’ (visiting officials always attract a crowd). At this point, I’m starting to suspect that there’s some truth in the ‘bitten by a panther’ saga. I ask one of the nurses if it really was a panther ‘oh yes’ he replied ‘the military killed it and brought it by the front of the hospital earlier in the back of a pickup and lots of people have photos of it. Ask Allamine (another nurse) to show you’. I find Allamine but he says he doesn’t have his phone on him. I’m still inquisitive and curious and I think it showed on my face! Bamon (another nurse) says ‘I’ll take you to the patient’s bed, her father has a video of the dead panther’. Bamon asks the father to get his phone out and show me. Sure enough, he has video footage of a soldier in the back of a pickup with a dead leopard. I now believed the story! I’ve been living here long enough now that I should’ve realised that it was probably true. Stories that seem too far-fetched rarely are here! News filtered out on Chadian online news outlets about the leopard attack. It apparently hurt 10 different people in the next-door village to Guinebor. I’m not sure why only one person ended up with us. The rest all ended up in another hospital in N’Djamena. The girl we took care of was taken to theatre to have her wounds (mainly on the back of the head) cleaned and packed and dressed. As well as having a visit from the local mayor, she was also visited a few days later by the Minister of the environment, water and fishing (cue another crowd of staff around the ward entrance). She left hospital a few days later. I saw her this afternoon; her Dad had brought her back in to have her stiches out and all the wounds seemed clean and well healed. None of those the leopard attacked died I don’t think. This story could easily have had a worse outcome.
I know the question everyone will be thinking: why was there a leopard on the loose on the outskirts of N’Djamena? There are two different stories circulating. I will leave you to decide which (if any) is true. I’ve got my suspicions as to the real answer! One story is that an army general kept it in his compound and it escaped. The other is that it came over the border from Cameroon.
For those of you who read French (or who want to take the time to put it through Google translate), here are a few of the online news articles about the leopard attack. Don’t read them unless you’re happy seeing a photo of a dead leopard……
There’s rarely a dull moment here at Guinebor II Hospital!