The queue was quite long. A girl a few people from my turn seemed sicker than the rest of us combined. She could hardly walk owr sit straight on the waiting platform. She was lying on her side, a painful expression on her face imminent.
She walked in to the doctor’s office holding on to the walls. She looked as if she could fall anytime. Luckily, she had a friend accompanying her but the consultation room is private and she had to wait outside.
I made a mental note to say hi to the person who would be behind the door to treat me, I turned the knob. There in a brilliant white coat sat a middle aged doctor with short hair shining from too much oil.
As soon as she had replied to my greeting, she asked how she could help me. I knew what I had gone there for. Clearly, she was a doctor. My ultimatum was to meet a gynaecologist. I would demand that and leave.
“I have a white vaginal discharge,” I said to her.
“Is there any itching?”
I wanted to add that it was infrequent but it was the severe type. However, she had already fixed her glasses and was typing away at the keyboard. Digitalization. Not a word to me. I felt like an ignored parent to a rebellious teen with earphones.
When she finally looked up, she sent me to the pharmacy. Wait, what? Is that all? I expected her to ask me to lie on my back on the bed behind her and examine me. Gloves on and I wouldn’t allow her to look. She could stick up a finger but not look.
I had it all planned out.
What was I even suffering from? I wondered as I closed the door and marched to the pharmacy as directed. At all times, follow the doctor’s instructions.
My name was called out when my prescription was ready. I walked up to the counter to pick it up. The man shook the box to my face and asked if I had used it before. I hadn’t.
“Use the back door and come in.”
My mind was racing but at the same time, I was feeling important. Not every individual gets to walk into the pharmacy. There was a curious look among the other waiting patients. He walked to the back to meet me.
He opened the box to reveal a white tube like thing. He started his explanation on how to use the tablets and by the end of it I was horrified. Is this what modern medicine has to offer?
That evening, I took out the patient information leaflet and read it to the very end. There were diagrams demonstrating how it should be used and how to disinfect it after. The man at the pharmacy had mastered all the steps given.
I lay on the bed, my legs pushed to my body as far back as they could go (more of the birth position) when my bedtime clocked. In my hands was the tube that would facilitate the tablet to go as far in as possible into the vagina.
Press the outer tube to release the tablet attached in and withdraw.
I was disgusted. I felt violated to some extent but I let no tears slide. I had earlier boiled water, let it become warm and added some salt. I would then dip the tube in a glass of that water and leave it overnight.
The pharmacist had been very clear that I was to do that only if I was in a position to do so (letting it stay overnight). What he meant was if I was living in a crowded place or with my parents or relatives, I should wash it with the same solution and it would still cause me no further infections.
The overnight procedure was an extra precaution. You can never be too careful.
I learnt that I had been suffering from Candidiasis (fancy name for a Yeast infection) all along. Not Trichomoniasis (I might have fallen in love with this term to diagnose myself with it) or BV. The doctor should have mentioned something.
Isn’t that the whole point of my seeking the medical attention in the first place?
The vaginal inserts lasted 6 whole nights. Each one worse than the previous. It was a grueling two-minute exercise for me and after dipping the tube in the solution, I would dive in the covers and hide until morning.
Mornings came with white discharge (of the tablet) and I would be wearing panty liners and run to the shower after it was all out. Among the side effects was itching and I was happy to experience no scratching.
The dosage ended on Tuesday night and I have no idea if I am healed. Reason? Yesternight my periods landed (I’m keeping a successful menstruation calendar, I’m proud) and all I wanted to do today was curl up in bed.
The Continuous Assessment Test(CAT) I have later today wouldn’t give me that pleasure. With slow careful steps, trying not to show souls the extreme pain I’m in, after painkillers and warm water therapy, I made it to school.
I’m keeping a brave face. If you see me today, please buy me food. The state of hunger has started setting in although I had a plateful of matoke (cooked green bananas) for breakfast!