By Adesida Adewumi, MD
I was inside my consulting room that afternoon when a gentleman and a lady walked in. I later knew Akin (not the real name) to be 38 years old and Juliet (not the real name) to be 30 years old. They were both planning to get married. “So what can I do for you both?”.
“Doctor, I brought my fiancée here for you to help me check her comprehensively and tell me everything about her health and I will like to know all your findings,” Akin said.
I asked Juliet, “did you hear what your fiancé said and do you give your consent to that?”
“Yes,” she emphatically said.
I documented this and asked her to sign the consent form. She did. Then I asked Akin to excuse us. I called in an hospital female assistant to stay with me as my witness.
There are three steps we use in medical profession to comprehensively check our patients. The first one is called history taking or interviewing. The second one is called examination which means checking the body. We do this in two ways. First, we check generally from head to toe, and secondly we focus on the important systems. Then the last step is for us to order for relevant tests.
There is something unusual about this premarital medical check-up requested by Akin and that was him asking for complete check-up. Many couples to be I have met usually come for genotype, blood group, HIV and Hepatitis viruses tests and once they are okay, they are good but requesting for a comprehensive premarital check up is not common.
So I proceeded into step one. I interviewed Juliet asking all our barrage of questions about the past and the present, the ones that concerned her and her family, work and social life and past relationships and abortions and so on. Juliet told me all was well. No single problem.
Then I proceeded to step two of the medical examination. I checked her generally first, all was fine.Then I focused on the important systems one by one.The major findings were found at the tummy. I saw wrinkles and lines that showed Miss Juliet was once pregnant or most likely had a child which she denied throughout the interview. Then I confronted her with the clinical evidence which she could not deny. Then she burst into tears begging me to help her lie to her fiance that she had never been pregnant before. I told her I would not be able to do that. Apart from betraying my oath, I would be putting my integrity on the line which is the major thing in my job as somebody dealing with human lives, as somebody that whatever I say today or I do not say, can make or mar people’s destinies. I told her I wouldn’t join her to lie to her fiance. She cried and begged me with her life. I stood my ground. I went ahead to counsel her to tell Akin herself when I called him in, but if she failed to do so, I would have no choice than to tell Mr Akin myself the whole truth about my findings. After a while she agreed to confess to him herself . That was better for me because the truth would be coming from her.
I called in Akin. I told Mr Akin every other thing I found and told him, his fiancee would tell him the major finding. So I waited and waited, but Juliet remained mute. She kept foot dragging. She couldn’t say it. I excused Akin for the second time. I counseled her again to tell him herself. She concurred but when Mr Akin came in, the same silent treatment took place.
I excused Akin the third time and appealed greatly to Miss Juliet to do the needful. She agreed but when Mr Akin came in same thing happened. Then I opened up to Akin about the past pregnancy issue I discovered.
Juliet rushed to her knees, held Akin’s feet and started weeping and wailing. Begging to tell him the whole truth. Akin told her to go ahead and tell him the whole truth.
Now this was what actually happened. This year made it three years they had been dating. They dated for a year before Akin travelled abroad for his two years postgraduate scholarship programme. He was so committed to Juliet that he had introduced her to his family and he kept in touch for the two years he was abroad. At least in a day they would talk for 5 minutes to two hours as time permitted. He assured all the time of his love for her and promised to marry her as soon as he was back to the country.
After he travelled abroad, Juliet met her Ex in shoprite in one of those times she went for shopping. One thing led to another and they started seeing each other again but Juliet, naturally, kept this from Akin. It was in this process she got pregnant for the Ex and the Ex insisted he would not agree to abortion of his baby. In all this she still kept communicating with Mr Akin.
After nine months, she delivered the baby but the baby died few weeks later in the hospital after developing jaundice. This led to the break up with the Ex. Then a year later Akin returned and brought her for this check up before marrying her. After she narrated this story I was overwhelmed and so many lessons started rushing through my mind.
I noticed Akin was calm, unperturbed and unruffled about all these confessions and tears. As I was wondering why, he gave his response.
“I know everything you confessed now because immediately I returned to the country, people had been coming to tell me all sorts of things that happened in my absence. Even over there I perceived something was wrong with you the way you usually turned down my video calls which was not so before. But you know what? Because of the love I have for you I forgive you.”
Then Akin turned to me. “Doctor, thank you for standing by your integrity and the oath you took to tell nothing but the truth at all times no matter the pressure. Keep it up.”
I went ahead to conduct the other relevant tests which later came back to be compatible with one another. They came three days later to collect them and it was as if no offence happened three days ago. Love is a powerful force behind forgiveness, I have no doubt. Three months later they got married. I was invited to the wedding as a VIP which I honoured. I asked for the permission of both of them to share this lesson on my platform for others to learn. It was granted. As I wished them marital bliss and on my way home from the reception the following life lessons started running through my mind:
Lesson number 1: This is to my fellow medical doctors. Always ask for your patients’ consent in all important and seemingly unimportant issues.
Lesson number 2: always document everything you discuss with your patients
Lesson number 3: never collude with any patient to lie to anybody
Lesson number 4: this is to all the young ladies out there in a committed relationship, always avoid Exes. This can put you in big trouble.
Lesson number 5: keep no secret from the person you are planning to spend the rest of your life with or someone that loves you so much. Don’t join others in keeping secrets from them them or lying to them. Even after 20 years into marriage, the truth may find you out and then the consequences will be grave.
Lesson number 6: when you are wrong or caught in your wrong doing, don’t defend your wrongdoings. Dont excuse them. Repent and show true remorse. Who knows, you may be forgiven.
Lesson number 7: Akin taught me a great lesson: LOVE CAN FORGIVE ANY SIN, I MEAN ANY SIN, NO MATTER HOW GREVIOUS IT MAY BE.
(You can equally add other lessons you have personally learnt from the story)
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▪︎ Dr. Adewumi, works in the Department of Family Medicine, Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, AKTH, Kano, Nigeria. Follow his page on Facebook: “FROM INSIDE MY CONSULTING ROOM “. Follow his health page on Instagram @doctorhealtheducation and on Twitter @doctorhealthed1 for daily education on your health.
By Adesida Adewumi, MD