Years ago, my dad took my sister and I to see the doctor. I was 13 years and my sister was 10 years old. We must have had malaria symptoms.

Dad took us to the clinic in his office building. He dropped up at the clinic reception and went to his office.

After a long wait (while watching tv and skimming through the newspapers and magazines), I was called to see the doctor. I told him my symptoms while he scribbled some medical jargons and told me to go back to the reception.

I returned to the reception and didn’t see my sister. I asked the nurse and she told me she was with another doctor.

“Okay”, I replied while I picked up another newspaper to read. Just before I sit down, my sister sluggishly approaches me.

“What did the doctor say?”, I ask her. She shrugs and continues staring into space as she swings her legs back and forth.

My father storms into the clinic. On his face was anger laced with disappointment.

“Svenja!” he yells at my younger sister. “…come with me”.

My younger sister sluggishly follows him and I watch the scene bedazzled. I can’t comprehend what’s going on.

Ten minutes seemed like forever. My sister and dad comes out.

“Omuwa, ensure you pick up your sister’s medication. In twenty minutes, Taju ( his official driver) will come to take you home”. he barked at me. “Also, ask your sister what was wrong with her that I had to be called from my meeting to see the doctor with her”.

“Okay daddy”, I replied in a singalong voice.

**

Apparently, when the doctor asked Svenya what the problem was, she kept mute. She just stared into space like she always did. After much persistence from the doctor, he told the nurse to call my dad.

My dad felt it was a “woman” problem and was so embarrassed, hurriedly came to the clinic. When my sister saw my dad, she felt a bit comfortable and told the doctor how she felt.

**

My siblings and I asked Svenya what the problem was at first. Why didn’t she talk when she saw the doctor. It took much persistence before she finally caved in and said “I just didn’t like his face. It looked scary”.

*

I could remember the doctor. He was tall, light skinned and had spots on his face. I recall he growled as he walked into the clinic. Perhaps, Svenya saw him and made her decision that he must be a mean doctor that she couldn’t trust.

**

Recently, there was a case of a cosmetic surgery gone wrong in Nigeria. It resulted to the death of the patient. The doctor took to social media to absolve herself and her clinic from the patient’s death. When I saw the video, I wondered if she was a doctor. She was sporting a worn-out wig, scantily dressed and spoke incomprehensibly. She looked no different than the “slay queens” in music videos. Then I recalled my sister’s experience with the scary doctor and I felt the same way too. I would not be her patient due to the way she looked and spoke.

*

As a doctor, especially in private practice, you are your private practice. You can’t be a dentist with a terrible dentition. If you are a dermatologist, you should not have your skin riddled with spots or acne. If you are a psychiatrist, you should pay extra attention to your dressing lest you be mistaken for a patient.

Please note, I love doctors. If I had a chance, I would have been a doctor, well, in another lifetime. I am not against cosmetic surgeries either. I believe what is worth doing is worth doing well. Your life is precious.

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