A 24-year-old businessman from Anambra State, Joseph Anenye, says losing his wife to pregnancy complications on August 19, 2023, two years after their wedding, has impacted him
When did you get married?
I had my traditional wedding on September 6, 2021. My wife is from Abia State, and she grew up with her grandmother. I got married in a church on January 5, 2022. She used to live in Awka (Anambra State) when I met her. We dated for one year. I left her in Awka and returned to Abuja.
Can you narrate what happened?
My wife, Silver Anenye, faced a critical medical situation when she was seven months pregnant, and it later led to her death. She was a month pregnant before leaving the East. Two days after she came to Abuja to live with me on April 28, 2022, she started bleeding. That led to a miscarriage. I felt it was the stress from the journey by road from the East to Abuja, so I took her to a Catholic hospital and I am a Catholic as well. When we got there, we were told that the miscarriage was caused by stress.
In April or June last year, she started complaining that she couldn’t see very well. So, I took her to the hospital. After examining her, it was found out that she had high blood pressure. It was confusing for the hospital workers when they found out she had no one with high BP in her system, in her lineage, and also that she was too young for that. So, we took her to an eye clinic, where she was given some drugs, and later referred to Federal Medical Centre, Jabi, in Abuja. They checked and did everything they could, but found nothing. Later, we were told that the high BP could be a result of high cholesterol history, so she stopped eating beef and restricted herself to only chicken. Also, we asked whether she could still get pregnant after the miscarriage, and we were told that she could.
When did she become pregnant for the second time?
She got pregnant again in December 2022. So, I asked her to go for a checkup that same day. I had to go and fix my car too that same day. I was at the mechanic’s workshop when she called me to inform me that she had news to share with me, but it was confusing when she told me it was a mixture of good news and bad news. She asked me which one I would like to hear first.
I told her to go ahead with the good news and she told me she was pregnant. I left the mechanic workshop and went to join her in the hospital. When I got to the hospital, I met a female doctor with her. The doctor congratulated me that my wife was two weeks pregnant, but she further explained that there was a problem. I asked her what the problem was, and she said my wife’s BP was getting extremely high. I can’t really remember the exact level, but it was over 190, so we changed the BP drugs because of her pregnancy. I think some BP drugs are not meant to be taken by pregnant women. We switched to a suitable one meant for pregnant women but I can’t remember the name.
Did she begin antenatal care?
Because of the high BP, she started antenatal care immediately. In the third month, she started developing some symptoms like vomiting and loss of appetite. She started vomiting everything she took, and she couldn’t eat well. When we went back to the hospital, she was given some drips because she was not eating anymore. We slept in the hospital for three weeks. Because she vomited everything she ate, she started losing weight seriously, and I thought that was a result of the food she wasn’t eating.
Two weeks after leaving the hospital, she did not use the toilet (defecate for two weeks). We went back to the hospital and they gave her some drugs. She started getting better and was able to use the toilet. When she was sick for months, we went back to the hospital where she was given a particular drip. A few days later, I had a contract to execute in Port Harcourt (Rivers State). I am engaged in two types of business: aluminum windows and acrylic paints. I went back to Port Harcourt, but because of her sickness, I didn’t stay there for long. I assigned my co-workers to continue with the job and I went back to Abuja. Days after I came back, I took her for antenatal care; she was seven months pregnant when I took her for antenatal care.
The health workers told us they wanted to do a scan so that we could see our baby. While we were in the hospital, we didn’t carry out the scan. When I got a call from one of my customers to come and do a supply, I told my wife I would come back to meet her and quickly went and supplied the goods. It took about 25 minutes to get to my shop. When I got to the shop, an unknown number called me and asked me to return to the hospital immediately.
What happened when you returned to the hospital?
I went back to the hospital and saw the doctors and nurses panicking and running helter-skelter. I met my wife crying, and the doctor narrated to me how she fainted a few minutes after I left. I was also told that her BP had risen to over 230. They said they wouldn’t release my wife and that they had to observe her for three days before discharging her. My elder sister, who is a pharmacist, called me, and I told her what happened. She advised me to let her stay for those three days, stating that if we left, I might be blamed for whatever happened afterward. So, her BP kept fluctuating. It continued like that for a week. We spent two weeks in the hospital, and the situation kept getting worse. Later, a doctor at the hospital advised me to take my wife to the Federal Medical Centre in Abuja where medical consultants could handle her situation. We were given a referral letter, and we went to FMC. We had our card there because we were there when her BP issue started.
Was she admitted immediately at the Federal Medical Centre?
After reading the referral letter, she was wheeled to the emergency room and admitted because her BP was still high, and underwent a series of tests.
What were the results of the tests?
They told us the results of the tests weren’t good and that we should go to a lab to run the tests so that we could compare. So, we went for the tests in a lab and returned to the hospital. When they compared the tests, they even told us the ones we did outside the hospital were worse than the ones we did in the hospital. My wife was dying, so they told us they would have to remove the baby.
When did that happen?
That was on June 5, 2023, and they had to do an emergency surgery. I was told that they would save my wife, but that the baby had a 50-50 chance of surviving. I had to agree; I told my wife initially but she refused. However, I persuaded her and paid for the surgery. They did the operation and brought out the baby. We saw the baby and the nurses told me to follow them to the place where they would keep the baby in an incubator, and I followed them.
Did they tell you about your wife’s condition?
After dropping the baby in the incubator, they told me to go back to my wife because she was in a coma. I went to see her where she was and asked a female doctor I saw there to tell me what the exact problem was. I was told she was in a coma, a critical case. They took her to the intensive care unit and within two hours, they called me from where the baby was kept. When I went there, I was told that the baby was dead. I felt sad and pained but I felt my wife’s life was more important.
Did you see her immediately?
I requested to see my wife and was told that because she was in a coma, I couldn’t see her and that she needed to be fine first. They told me to be patient and that I would see her. That night, they wrapped the baby and gave it to me. I was confused and not unstable. One of the cleaners told me that it was too late to go and bury the baby at that time of the night. She advised me to return the baby to them and I came for it the next morning. The next day, my younger brother and his friend had to bury the baby. My wife’s younger sister later joined me to run hospital errands. She was the only one who came around because she was in Abuja and studying at the University of Abuja. After the fourth day, my wife regained consciousness. She remained in the ICU for three days, and that amounted to N400,000. Note that we had spent a lot of money earlier.
From the ICU, she was taken to the ward, and she started asking me about the baby but I assured her that the baby was okay. She was recovering in the ward but she kept pestering me about the baby.
What did you tell her?
I told her the truth that the baby was no more, and she told me she already knew as she heard some nurses discussing the death of the baby. I had to console her before we went home.
Did her condition improve at home?
She complained of pain, saying she felt like something was biting her inside. We took her back to the hospital and she was admitted again, and a cardiologist examined her. When my brother saw her picture, he told the cardiologist on the phone that he would like to take her out of the country. After a while, a scan revealed an intestinal obstruction. By that time, my wife’s condition worsened by the day. I was told that her chance of survival was 50-50 but I objected. I consulted the cardiologist, who took me aside and told me that the best advice he could give was for my wife to undergo surgery at the hospital to save her life. In August, this year, I was given a paper to sign. I was confused and crying. But before the surgery, I discussed it with my wife, and she said if that was the best measure that they could take, she was okay with it.
Did she know about her chance of survival?
I never mentioned to her that the operation had a 50-50 chance of survival. The surgery was done at about 10 am, and she came out at about 5:30 pm. When she came around, I noticed she was tied up, and when I asked why, I was told she was in pain and could use her hands to remove the gadgets.
Later that night, I went inside my car and slept. At about 5am the next day, my phone rang and I was instructed to go to the hospital. A doctor and a nurse sat me down and told me that my wife’s heart had failed. I asked what they meant and they told me that she did not make it. So, it happened that she died on August 19, 2023. From the time she was admitted until she died, I spent about N5.8m, yet she did not make it. I did everything I could to see her get well; maybe that’s what God wanted. My wife’s entire family was shocked by her death.
How has the family been coping with the grief?
In all honesty, her death is a shock, and it has not been easy. I don’t think I can recover from the death of my wife and baby; it is a sad one. I felt so bad because I tried my best. I spent millions of naira to save her life and that of the baby but it was a waste of effort. Since the day she died, every time I sleep, I wake up at 4 am and cry until 6 am. I avoid touching my phone, and when I do, I see the videos I made with my wife and I can’t help it. It has not been easy. At times, thoughts come to me, and I wish I were dead. I loved her so much. I have never loved a woman like I loved her. I sometimes wish I had died instead of her.