FIBROID, DIABETES, LIVER CIRRHOSIS CROWD WOMAN'S TUMMY
On one of the popular pedestrian bridges in Lagos is this hapless woman with distended tummy lying supine in the sun. She solicits assistance all day, stretching her hand to every passer-bye. To her, all these people are sources of rescue from her dilemma.
For Risikatu Gbadamosi, 43, who carries around a heavy burden of a protruding stomach which experts suspect might be ovarian cyst, life has become almost bereft of any meaning. Ovarian cysts are small fluid-filled sacs that develop in a woman's ovaries.
Some are harmless while others could rupture, bleed or pain and may require surgery to remove. The reason she turned a pedestrian bridge to her abode is to seek for help from kind spirited Nigerians.
Gbadamosi is a widow and a mother of two and hails from Ibadan, Oyo State. With the assistance of an aide, who disappears as soon as he accomplishes his mission every morning, she gets to the roadside to seek help. The distraught woman has made the busy Cele bus stop along the Oshodi-Apapa expressway her place of work. Very close to her heart is a carton where the proceeds of the day are kept. As passers-by take a quick look at her, their hands reach for their purses and wallets. Their instinct of sympathy urges them to drop money. You could see the movement of her eyes guarding this carton jealously. But the token she gets everyday would just be enough to feed the sick woman and not enough to provide the cure for her ailment.
Interestingly, she opens up to tell the story of her protruding stomach, which has kept her down for the past six years. All these years, Gbadamosi relies on help for everything. The children handle the household chores. She does not look frail or emaciated because she has a strong will to survive. Her voice is strong and firm. She narrates her ordeal.
'I woke up one morning to experience strange pregnancy while I am not pregnant in the real sense.'
She felt like there is a baby inside her and it troubles her a great deal, especially since she did not have any sexual contact with any man.
Noticing that her stomach was protruding instead of flattening down, she gathered the little money within her reach and went to the University Teaching Hospital (UCH), Ibadan. 'When I got to the hospital, I met consultants who told me it was fibroid; I was not fast enough to go for the fibroid surgery because of the money involved and the protrusion has been growing and worsening.'
By the time she went back to complain about the uncontrollable enlargement, and the pains she was experiencing, the answer changed. 'Other ailments were now diagnosed in the stomach.' According to her, that protruding belly which looks as if it contains a drum of water consists of fibroid, diabetes, liver cirrhosis and ailments she does not know their names.
Today, Gbadamosi looks up to individuals, corporate bodies and religious organizations for help. She needs N6 million, according to consultants, to get the illness out of the way. Since that money was not easy to come by, she went to a private hospital where she thought help might come from, but to no avail.
As she lives each day by the special grace of God, Gbadamosi who was a petty trader before the illness knocked her out, has resigned to fate.
Painting a picture of a lonely woman, her expression about her family members does not give her joy. It seems they have deserted her. She feels for the members of her family to the extent that she kept her two children in the custody of her friend instead of relatives. They all have their individual responsibilities. 'Before you carry your own go meet them, them go carry their own come meet you', she said
She does not like the fact that she sleeps on top of the bridge, but for now, that is what life has turned her into. If she gets back to healthy life, she would rather go back to her petty trading to fend for herself and her children. But as you read the story, poor Risikatu still lives on the street.