Mad Bush Doctor ...

 

One morning, Dr. Vincent DiSario drove into our compound with his usual, "Hallo ... Hallo," greetings.

"Sandra,  not to worry,"  he said to my wife, now in her fifth month of pregnancy.

Not to worry about what,  Vincent?"   she inquired, already becoming tense with apprehension.

"The spinal block.   I read about it in my book and I practiced on some people.  At first,  it didn't work,  but now I can do it."

"Good God in Heaven,"  she exclaimed with a horrified look in her eyes.  "What do you mean ... it didn't work?"    What happened to the patients?"

"Not to worry, they were old people with terminal leprosy.   It was a painless way for them to go.  I really did them a favor,"  he assured her with a sincere shaking of his head.

Firmly,  I told Vincent that we had decided to go to Tamale before Sandra went into labor and would not be using his clinic in Navrongo.   He was visibly relieved.  I then added,  "You must not practice spinal blocks,  or any other unfamilar medical procedures,  on any other people.  If you don't obey,    I'll report you to the regional authorities,"   I added with my sternest tones.

"Not to worry,  Bill.    Everything is ... as you Americans say ... O.K. ...  No?"

At dinner,  Sandra and I discussed various plans for exposing this fraudulent doctor  who was employed by the White Fathers - the only doctor within a 150 mile radius of Navrongo.   But by the time I had turned the generator off and had settled into bed,  we found ourselves making excuses for Vincent.  We had seen the dying elderly patients in the clinic and heard their cries as leprosy consumed them.  Was this mad Italian a murderer, or was he just a bumbling instrument in God's hands - sent to alleviate unimaginable pain and suffering?

We had no answer, but we felt as if we were beginning to understand something about the realities of living in the West African Bush in l958.

 

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