The Compulsory Section?

When we aim at something our perception of the world orients itself around that aim. That’s a powerful thought. The next thing to consider would be this: be careful at what you aim at. We can use that as our running theme for today’s article.

Anyway, once upon a time we had gone to the biochemistry lab for practicals. We must have been in late fourth year or early fifth year, because I remember we were all looking dull, tired and disinterested. So much so that some people had not showed up with lab coats. A good number of us were late too. Not that we didn’t like learning or we fancied being slothful students. There is just a way long, tough courses suck out the zeal in people slowly and steadily over time, turning everyone into something resembling a slightly intelligent zombie.

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Well, the laboratory technician would have none of it. He immediately sent away those who didn’t have lab coats to go get them. It was early in the afternoon and the sun was shining with gusto. Allano lived fifty stone throws from the lab. He was therefore not very enthusiastic about going to get his lab coat. But he did anyway. When he came back, sweaty and mildly choleric, he took a seat at the back bench. The lab technician disagreed and told him he was either sitting in front or leaving. In fact he should just get out.

Anyone who has ever been in a classroom will know the prestige of the back bench and the anxiety of the front seats. Now Allano was fully choleric and fuming. He had had enough. After walking fifty stone throws to and fro in the abrasive sun over a lab coat he couldn’t be allowed to cool off at the back in peace? He grudgingly complied. We, of course, enjoyed the drama in silence. He walked to the door, silently cursing all the way and fidgeted with the knob for a half a minute. It wouldn’t open. He looked at the lab technician with a puzzled but still annoyed face.

The lab technician was smiling. And then he broke into a fit of laughter, telling Allano he knew the door was faulty and couldn’t be opened from inside unless one had the key, which he had. He also told him the reason he wanted him to sit in front was because he was awarding marks for people who came early, and he had observed that Allano actually came early. He had separated those who came early from those who came late by having the early birds sit in front. Chasing him out of the lab was all a prank since he had closed the door and he knew Allano wouldn’t be able to get out. He just wanted to get Allano to come to the front so that he wouldn’t miss his marks for coming early.

The fact that a lab technician could play such a prank got us laughing too. My classmate and now Dr Mugambi was particularly amused, since Allano’s anger was now misplaced and the lab technician wasn’t the villain we had thought him to be. He laughed at Allano the loudest and he is that sort of guy whose laughter makes a joke funnier.

Needless to say the small incident injected a bit of life into our zombified bodies and we actually ended up enjoying the session. The lab technician turned out be not just a master prankster but an authority on HIV as well. He allowed us to ask as many questions as we wanted on HIV and he had the answers in all their technical glory. And you know how much we in the medical field love our Latin-flavoured, big, confusing words. Only our love for bad, illegible, seizure-stricken handwriting comes close. The fact that he spoke this strange dialect fluently made him an instant fan favorite.

That was a pretty long introduction. We are supposed to be talking about the Caesarean section. The origin of the name has somewhat become distorted over time, with hints that it could have been derived from the Latin word meaning to cut open or the name of Julius Caesar himself. In ancient times, as early as 1027AD, it was only performed when the mother was dying and the baby needed to be saved. Over the years it has become possible to perform the surgery and preserve the life of both mother and child. So yeiy to science.

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However, that does not mean that it is now the preferred option. A natural birth is still the recommended method of delivery, unless medical reasons necessitate otherwise. The C section carries a higher risk of wound infection, immoderate bleeding, lively and extended pain, fetal trauma and respiratory complications for the baby when compared to a normal delivery. It also complicates future pregnancies, since a vertical incision necessitates all future deliveries to be done by c section. One also increases their chances of having an abnormal pregnancy such as placenta accreta. We can’t miss our dose of jargon in a medical article. That would be blasphemous. Even Allano would walk out of the article.

There are times when a c section is the better option. Maybe the baby is abnormally large, the mother has a heart or lung disease, a placenta that has grown too deeply into the uterine wall, HIV is being pesky or there was a previous c section. In these cases, the whole crew of the surgeon, surgeon’s assistant, anesthesiologist, scrub nurse, circulating nurse and physician will attend to the surgery with academic precision.

Otherwise if the doctors advice that you can do a normal delivery then go for it. It is safer and better for you and for the baby. There has been a perception that a c section is better than normal delivery by many. Now you know otherwise. You still have the final say, but understand that when Dr Allan and Dr Mugambi say you can do a normal delivery just fine they are not being sadistic. They are directing you to the better alternative. They mean it, even if Dr Mugambi is laughing about it while telling you.

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