Monday, 21 October 2013


I learnt something very valuable today and before you start thinking about it too hard let me just say, No, I didn't take any alcohol. It's like this; I've been on call for the past 24 hours in the accident and emergency room, and it was going quite well until 9 pm. I was feeling pleased with the call, thinking to myself "I've cleared the place and the patients have been stabilized. I had just finished my dinner when the call came in from the ER nurse (I was in my call room by the way) "Doctor we have a patient - alcohol intoxication".

Immediately I remembered a 17 year boy we'd lost a few months back to alcohol intoxication. He had been out with friends and mixing every possible alcohol with African roots and herbs (kainkain, Ogogoro, Alomo bitters e.t.c). These are names of some hot alcoholic drinks in Nigerian. Long story short, he was brought in late and we lost him. So you can imagine my reaction when I heard about this case. This one was a 21-year old out on a friend's birthday party and I guess they had a competition of who could drink more. He also had mixed drinks (vodka and something else - I have no idea what).

As I approached the emergency room, the stench of the alcohol was what hit me first. Apparently he had also been throwing up all over the place. Thankfully my team was ready and we immediately commenced his treatment while chasing his alcohol-smelling friends out  of the room to have some fresh air. We had just secured his IV (intravenous) line when the second alcoholic individual staggered in surrounded by concerned family and friends. He too was on his way back from a friend's birthday party when he was attacked by robbers that he managed to escape but not without a stab injury to the elbow.

So now I had 2 people soaked to the skin with alcohol, 1 unconscious and thankfully the second one conscious. The night call decided to get even busier with some asthmatics and malaria cases showing up. It cool down at 1am. My unconscious alcoholic patient was coming out of his coma. It was calm again and I decided to get some rest before morning came with the usual rounds and presentation of cases. That was not to be however, when yet another call came in at 4am. This time a road traffic accident and the patient had a fracture and was bleeding profusely. He too was drunk and decided that the right time to look for airtime in a city like the one I live in was at 2am. He got knocked down by another drunk driver who by my guess was on his way back from a club. ( by my guess because the driver was nowhere to be found).

Now this is the valuable lesson I learnt - that alcohol and blood don't mix well, that alcohol and blood are indeed a very bad combination. For the first since I started studying medicine (apart from the first day I dissected a cadaver) I got very nauseous! my stomach revolted and I have to run to the sink almost retching. My work on that patient was far from over. I still had to manually align the broken femoral bone and resuscitate him.  But I got out of there as fast as I could before I ended up disgracing myself.

In conclusion, it was a terrible night but it's also the reason I'm so passionate about my job. Don't go near blood and alcohol though, the stench is something no one wants to contend with. I'm nauseated just thinking about it.


  1. Oh dear!, I feel for my husband who has to deal with drunks EVERYDAY! Apparently the main reason why young people end up in hospitals here in the UK is as a result of accidents that are alcohol and drugs related.


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