Popular Lagos society woman, Princess Toyin Atobatele, has told City People how she nearly ran mad the day she lost her son, Micheal Atobatele.
She told City People recently how the son died on her laps, and since the death of her son, her life has changed dramatically. “Since the death of my son, I have learnt to be very gentle. Before now, I was an outspoken person: I was a student union activist when I was in school”.
“Whatever I feel is not right, I will say it. I am a changed person. I just believe these days, because what killed my son, how he died, I can not even fathom, or imagine it. So since then, I have withdrawn into my shell.
Since the incident of her son’s death, how has she taken the whole incident? “I have been sad. Each time I think about it, I feel sad. And anybody will feel sad; there is nobody that it would happen to that will not feel sad.
I feel sad and at the same time I am grateful to God. He is the one that gave me Micheal. Initially, I did not believe that he could take Micheal. You know how it feels. I have come to terms with it. When everyone was saying God is the one that gives, He is the one that takes. I said Ha, ok. I feel that God would not come and kill my son. So, whatever killed him, I just know that he is with God”.
“That is the only consolation I have. And with the kind of life that he lived, I know definitely he is going to be with God.
We remember him every time. We can’t forget him in our lives, especially my children and I. And I don’t know if anybody can”.
Tell us about him. Who was Micheal?
Haa! Is my son. And I have to miss him. I have to continue to miss him. I miss him because he is a son that had so much in him; he had so much passion to excel ; he had so much I-can-do-spirit. Micheal is focused. Micheal knows what he wants. He has that spirit. He looks into the future. All these things that they are saying like e-commerce, my son has been telling me about e-commerce for over 6 years before he died.
When he first entered into the University of Hertfordshire (UK), he would come home and tell me if I have heard about e-commerce? Then, I didn’t know about e-commerce. He used to tell me e-commerce would take over the world and I feel that you should invest in it. He is quite knowledgeable. He used to say that, in another few years nobody we would be going to the market to buy Pepper. He used to tell me that, people would just go online to order for pepper and buy it and that the pepper would be delivered to their house”.
“That was how he explained e-commerce. I wasn’t conversant with all these computer issues then.
“So, he has focus. When I look at his friends now, I miss him all the time. As at today, I know what Micheal would have become. He thinks more than a 40 year old. He thinks like an adult. When I was driving on the 3rd Mainland bridge and I saw the Ferry Jetty project there, I looked and I laughed because Micheal had been saying it and he even wrote a proposal on it. He went to Greenwich Ferry abroad to go ask them where they got their ferry and everything. He had written the proposal and he asked me to take him to Lagos State so that they could adopt it.
I actually took him to Transport section. He was only 22 years old then. By the time my friend at the Transport section finished talking to Micheal, he called me to ask me how old he was. I said 22. He said he didn’t believe me. He said he was older than his age; he said, for every question he asked, he had an answer to it”.
“He told them he had done a lot of work on the Ferry project. He had sourced where to get the ferries in China. He had drawn up a map. But Micheal passed on, about 5 months after.
Micheal thinks ahead. He had a company with his friends; they are still running it. They are doing well. They are producing even in his absence.
How come she still talks about him in the present. “Yes now. He’s now. I can’t forget him. He is in my present. I didn’t use was for him. He is still part of me. He is still here. I occasionally use Was, but I prefer IS. We just celebrated his birthday last Sunday. He would have been 25”.
At the time he died what went through her mind? “I don’t know what went through my mind. Do you know what it means when you are looking at your son and life is going out of him and you can’t do anything? You can’t save him. I was right there with him at the hospital. He kept going in and out. He kept having cardiac arrests and there was nothing I could do than to be praying”.
“Majority of these things, I blame it on our health system. We run one of the worst health systems in the whole world”.
Whatever happened to Micheal, if it had happened to him when he was in school in the UK he wouldn’t have died. What started this crisis was a simple headache. He had a headache and we were in touch. I just thought it was normal headache.
So, I took him home and I went back to church. Micheal does not rest. He goes from one meeting to another. So, I took him home to rest. He was observing his youth service. When he leaves work at 5.00pm, he would go to the Island. They were opening their shop. Sometimes, they want to do Pop-Up shop for the company they have, that produces Tee Shirts. So, he doesn’t rest normally. So, I said Go home and sleep.
Take drugs and go and rest and I went back to church. By the time I came back from church and I said let’s go back to the hospital. He was ok, because we actually met him watching TV. I now said let’s go to the hospital, he now said the headache has gone. But I saw him holding his head in his hands. I now said ok, We would go to the hospital, the following day. We went. We went to meet the Doctor who normally treats them when they come to Nigeria. He knows my kids very well. They only have Malaria from time to time or Cold. That is the highest illness they can have”.
“When we got there, he said we should start treating him for Malaria, but they should take his blood. He said before then they should give him Paluther. They only gave him Paluther and Lexotan, so that he could sleep and I brought him back home.
And then in the night of that Monday he just called me about 2:30am. He said mum I can’t feel my head. I just picked the anointing oil that I had. I poured it on his head. I said Oya, off to the hospital. We got to the hospital quite alright, but there was no diagnostic centre that operates 24 hours. You have to wait till morning, and there was no where we could do the test. So there was no where we would do the ECG Sound test they recommended we should do. So, we had to wait till morning. And he was having this terrible headache, so they had to put him to sleep. In the morning we took him to Afri Global to do the CT Scan. When we did the CT Scan at Afri Global.
I wouldn’t know the agreement they had with this doctors. When the doctor directs you to do a test there, what I don’t like is, if they come to your place to have a test and you see it as a life threatening situation why won’t you tell the person that Madam, this thing that we have just done is very critical. Please take this boy to the hospital now. They will just give you the result and they will not say anything”.
They will just say take it to the doctor. “Meanwhile, all the time we were doing this we were wasting time. They didn’t tell us what they found out. They did not read it out for us. They were so slow. By the time they discovered that something was wrong with him, we had wasted time. They said he had water in the brain (hydrocephalus). They now called Neuro-surgeon. He now directed us to LASUTH.
They said there was no bed. I begged and begged. This is a simple surgery they can do for this boy to save his life. This boy can sit like this, transquilise him, drill his head and put something to suck out the water that is putting presence in his brain. So we carried him to go to LUTH. On our way to LUTH, I suddenly remembered that there is Reddington Hospital in Ikeja GRA. At Reddington, they said they didn’t have an in house neuro-surgeon. We went to LUTH. When we got to LUTH, my son was still very conscious.
He was on my laps. He was talking to me. He got to LUTH conscious. And then we went to Emergency Ward. They said we have to go and take card, we have to go and pay before they could take him in. They didn’t even take his vitals. They said go and pay. So my husband and the family doctor now went to collect the card to pay. They have not reached there when Micheal said he wanted to sit up and then I sat him up and by the time I moved to the other side to support him, he went into a coma. Usually, if I call Micheal once he would answer me. I called and called Micheal, he didn’t answer.
So I began to shout Help! Help! That was when the hospital people came in with Oxygen. If they had given him Oxygen immediately we got there probably Micheal will still be living. That was how Micheal went into Coma. They now took him and put him on the bed without seeing the money whether we have paid or not, without seeing the card. How can you have an Emergence Ward and you don’t treat an emergency as emergency?
That was how we were praying that he would come out of it. They transferred him from General Ward to ICU. We prayed and prayed for 5 days. After 5 days he passed on. I was right there with him”.
“I still see the picture everyday and I talk to him everyday that I am sorry”.
“There was nothing I could do that day. I was just crying. I was just praying. We could not eat. We could not bath. I could not leave the hospital from the 1st day they took him there”.
“I just feel the government should invest more on this thing they call Health. My friends were ready to fly Micheal abroad.
But they could not carry him because he was in coma. Some of my friends had already organized for Micheal to be flown out. I felt bad the day he died.