I recently found out that I have Nosocomephobia. What does it mean? Is that even a thing? Well, as you know, there is a name for everything these days. I never knew that word existed until a few days back. Nosocomephobia means the fear of hospitals and surprisingly, it is a common medical phobia.
Back in high school, I always dreamt of being a medical doctor or at least working in the medical field. I liked doctors because they can listen, understand, and maybe fix a person’s problem to make them feel better.
As a kid, I visited the hospital a lot. I had a constant stomach ache which made me absent from school on several occasions. I was also admitted a lot and because of that, I became a familiar face in the hospital.
My mum was always there, caring for me, and doing the best she could as I groaned in pain. Unfortunately, the doctors didn’t understand the problem, and therefore, couldn’t fix it. I was so sad and worried because I knew the situation affected everyone around me, including myself. Imagine being the kid who missed so much school work that it became hard to catch up.
Being in the hospital frequently, I had no choice but to make friends with some doctors, nurses, and patients in the ward. Not-so-Fun fact: Most nurses are never nice. Few times, I was lucky to meet nice nurses, other times, not so much. There were days I was alone in the hospital because my mum had to work and my siblings were in school, so during those times, I would try to have conversations with the nurses or doctors on duty.
One of the things that got me interested in the medical profession was the white coat the doctors always wore. It made them look elegant and confident. Some of them taught me a few things and encouraged me to work hard if I wanted to be like them. I would always brag about knowing some medical terms when I went back to school.
Sadly, it was difficult for me to get qualified for a medical course in the schools I applied for. I had no choice but to study another course with the hope of still going into the medical field. As I studied to ace my exams in school, I continued to learn somethings on my own. Somehow, I believed watching medical TV series and making some researches would improve my knowledge, and make medical school easier. I said, “If Meredith Grey can do it, so can I.” Ha-ha!
I was rounding up from school when I found out my mum was sick with a terminal disease. She was admitted to the hospital for months and it felt like it was my turn to take care of her. I didn’t know how much work it was for my mum to care for me when I was sick until I experienced it.
My siblings and I tried as much as we could to make her comfortable and we sometimes felt the pain she was going through that we cried several times. We prayed with her, laughed with her, and ate with her, but it felt like our best wasn’t good enough. The doctors didn’t act like they cared what happened to her and that made it seem worse. They attended to her at their convenience and even when she tried so hard to explain how she felt, they ignored.
It was like they knew she didn’t have much time left and thus, weren’t bothered. The whole experience for me was traumatic. I was barely eating and sleeping. All I wanted was for her to feel better so we could go home. I tried to be strong for her but it was difficult. How can one show strength in a time like that? I was angry at everyone, but even on her sickbed, she taught me how to properly address the doctors no matter how bad they behaved.
After God called her home, I didn’t feel anything for weeks. My friends asked if I was okay because they were surprised at how I was handling the loss. I also didn’t know why I felt the way I did, and it was not until a month passed before I had my first break down.
I was preparing for my NYSC orientation camp, and one of the requirements for the program was a medical report from any government hospital. My friend accompanied me for the tests. We waited for sometime before we were attended to and that triggered all the emotions I had unknowingly bottled up. I was angry at how slow they were. My friend looked at me worried and asked if I was alright.
Finally, the laboratory attendant called me in to take my blood samples. As she stretched out my hand to look for my vein, I broke down in tears. I was suddenly scared of being in the hospital. She was confused and asked what the problem was and as I tried to explain, more tears rolled down my eyes. Everything reminded me of my mum and how she was in so much pain before she died.
I thought that incident occurred because it was my first time back at the hospital since I lost her, so I didn’t assume the worst of it. I avoided the hospital as much as I could and I went to the pharmacy whenever I was ill.
Some weeks ago, I noticed my body was failing me. I was always tired and had no appetite. The headache was consistent too. I started to self-medicate but it wasn’t working. At this point, I was convinced to go to the hospital and run some tests. It was the only way to find out what was wrong and be treated properly.
As the doctors attended to me, I began to panic. All I could see was my mum in pain, fighting to stay alive for her family. It was sad to be reminded of the experience and I began to dislike medical professionals. I didn’t see them as heroes to look up to anymore because they had failed me.
I then realized that being in the hospital with my mum and witnessing people die had affected me to the point that I was now afraid of hospitals. Things were different for me now. I guess the pain of losing someone leaves you scathed, and mine came with a load of fears.