LINUS OOTA in Lafia chronicles the plight of 27-year-old spinal cord injury patient, who after being bedridden for ten years without reprieve, now craves death as respite for his pains.
The 27-year-old Theodore Utime, a Tiv indigene of Nasarawa State now wears sorrow like a garment. He no longer has any desire to live, and now daily wish for death – all because of the insufferable pains that now abide with him and the never ending misery his life has become, having been bed-ridden for over 10 years, without being able to sit up or walk.
The situation has also denied him the opportunity to complete his secondary education and his desire to study chemistry in the university. Those are aside the fact that it has turned him into a conduit pipe, through wish the fortunes and earnings of his peasant farmer parents are being drained, causing them to now live like paupers.
Despite all efforts, Utime’s health worsens by the day and has deteriorated to a point where the embattled young man now prays the prayer of Job, to die and bring an end to his earthly suffering.
When our correspondent visited him at a private residence in Lafia, Utime was shedding tears. He could neither sit up nor turn properly from his bed-ridden position and his voice was hardly audible, choking as he suppressed sobs. He however managed to explain that his parents have lost all hopes of a future for him, as a result of his condition.
Utime, who hails from Mararaban Danko, Awe Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, said it happened suddenly in 2010 when he was in JSS2 at Government Secondary School, Awe, preparing to move to the next class and he fell into a deep pit and got his spinal cord broken. That injury also badly affected his waist and neck and has had him bed-ridden for 10 years.
He explained further: “In 2010 when this happened to me, I was 18 years old; now I’m 27. I was in JSS2 then and I have not been able to continue with school since then. I had always wanted to school up to university level, but see where I am today. I can’t walk, I can’t sit up, I can’t stand, I can’t do anything. My mother does almost everything for me.
“My ambition was to study Chemistry, become a great man, a philanthropist, a man who can help people, before this ugly incident happened to me. What happened was that I came to Lafia to work temporarily with the Nigerian Electricity Power Holding Company and fell in a pit.”
Narrating what happened on that fateful day of 30th September 2010, Utime said, “My uncle Mr. Francis Yua secured a contract with them, so he invited me to come and work with him, so that I could also raise some money to take care of myself and pursue my dreams in education. It was in the process of working there that I fell and sustained this spinal cord injury. We started the work on 13th September, 2010 and I got the injury on 30th September, 2010.
“We were casting iron. We had cast the first day and on the second day, we were to remove the iron because they put it in the pit so that we would be fetching cement in the wheelbarrow and putting in the pit. From there, we were packing the iron to another pit, but it was rainy season and the ground was slippery. As I held the iron and made to turn, I suddenly slipped, lost my balance and fell inside the deep pit with the iron I was carrying.
“I was taken to the specialist hospital in Lafia, but after much spending, they were not able to handle my case and I was advised to go to Makurdi for further treatment. I was taken to Makurdi in a state of comma and I was in that situation for days. From Makurdi, I was referred to Mkar, Gboko, where they treat spinal cord injuries. That was where I got a little relief. I was in serious pains throughout these stages until I got to Mkar but before we got to Mkar, my parents had already exhausted all they had. My uncle equally emptied his account to ensure I got the best treatment.
“Mkar actually tried but lack of funds hindered them from continuing the treatment. My spinal cord was broken in my neck and waist. They treated the neck and I got some relief, which is why I can turn my neck freely, but they were not able to treat that of the waist, largely due to lack of finance. This made us return to Lafia without completing the treatment.
“Presently, I’m not undergoing any treatment; the electricity company did not assist me with one kobo on the basis that I was not their staff. At the movement, I can’t stand, I can’t walk, I can’t sit up and I’m permanently in extreme pains.
“I have been at home for a very long time, if I get help from anyone, I would want to go back to Mkar hospital, they really tried to revive me but finance hindered them from bringing me back to normal life. We have tried our best possible, my parents are peasant farmers. Since that incident, they hardly go to the farm again because they use most of their time in looking after and taking care of me. They have nowhere to go and source for money any longer, as they are hugely indebted.
“I have really suffered in life. Sometimes, I wonder why I had to be saddled with such condition. The financial cost and emotional pains that have gone into this dilemma are unimaginable, the pains are excessive
Speaking to our correspondent, Utime’s mother, Paulina Utime, said for the past 10 years, she has not been able to do anything because she has been moving with her son from one place to another, seeking for a solution.
She said both her and her husband, Utime Gbaagbu, are peasant farmers and they have spent all their resources on the treatment.
“God has inflicted a permanent wound on my entire life. There is absolutely no point in keeping me alive; this is my only son. Most times I think of taking away my life. God is not fair to me and I don’t know my offence,” she burst into tears.