I stood in the examination room of the surgical outpatient section of the University College hospital, Ibadan, shifting my weight from one foot to another while trying to focus on what the consultant was saying. I was very interested in the patient’s condition as it involved a damage to the spinal cord but at the same time I was also thinking of my next meal.
“Ma’am I need you to lie on the plinth”
The deep sonorous voice of the consultant jolted me back from spaghetti land. He wanted to properly examine the sensory abilities of the patient and instructed her to lie on the bed-like platform called a plinth. All the students, including myself, turned towards the plinth and struggled to get a good position to view the process. However the consultant noticed that the plinth was bare with no linen covering it and got furious.
In a bit to salvage the situation and noticing that there was a sheet hanging over the edge of the plinth, I reached out with my bare hands to lift this.
“No that has been used. Put it down and call the nurse to bring a fresh linen” The consultant retorted.
I dropped it immediately, not thinking twice and waited for the nurse.
15 minutes later, the nurse walked in, bringing along a fresh set of bed coverings and made an entire ceremony of laying it smoother than a hotel bed. When she was done, she paused to admire her work and looked around her.
She caught sight of the used bed sheet and to my horrified eyes, reached inside her pockets, withdrew a pair of gloves, wore them and picked up the sheets.
It was at this moment I knew I had fucked up.
Okay. Take a deep breadth. You can handle this situation. All you have to do is wash your hands and everything will be okay.
Then it hit me. In 15 minutes, I’d brushed my hair from my face. I’d rubbed my nose. I’d pressed my phone, written down in my jotter and even tapped my colleague on the shoulder.
I began to imagine the worst. I imagined the worst possible microorganisms that could have been present on the linen. I tried to recollect the nurse’s body language while she picked it up….. Did she wear the gloves out of caution or did she seem certain of a spill?.. Did the sheets appear wet?
After washing my hands, I began to pray. No not pray. I began to torture myself with possible complications that could arise from touching the spill of a patient.
I imagined that this exposure would lead me to develop a terminal illness that would eventually lead to my death. That I would lay on my death bed and wish I hadn’t touched the sheets. Not likely, but tell that to my brain.
Half an hour later, I was fine. Well not completely, but at least I didn’t think I was gonna die. I had reassured myself that it was merely hospital protocols and washing my hands would correct all the damage.
I remembered that a while ago I had read about something called the butterfly effect.
This effect explains that major events in the world (especially concerning the weather) could be caused by something as little as the flap of butterfly wings. Maybe not directly….. But a sequel of events.. For example
The flap of a butterfly’s wings will cause a car driver to get distracted and result in a road traffic accident.
Okay let’s try something more complicated.
In the movie, big little lies. Madeline sprained her ankle. Jane rushed to help her and they instantly became friends. Madeline introduced Jane to her best friend Celeste. Turns out their kids all go to the same school. Jane’s son is accused of hurting a girl at school, causing Madeline to defend her against the girls mother. Turns out it’s really Celeste’s son that was the bully and Celeste’s abusive husband is the man who raped Jane many years ago and is the father of her son. Celeste’s husband realizes there’s no escape for him and attempts to kill his wife, he is pushed down the stairs by Madeline’s ex husband’s new wife. He dies.
A man dies because Madeline sprained her ankle.
Mind blowing. Literally.
This implies that small activities in our lives eventually build up to major events that define us….
My knowledge of this has been both a blessing and a curse.
It has been a blessing because I can factor in little things that I know adds up to my self development. For example, I know that in working out frequently, I contribute to my general well-being and reduce the risk of most diseases. I also know that in setting goals for myself everyday and attempting to accomplish them, I contribute to being more productive and successful.
Like I said, a blessing.
I recently suffered two major losses while doing one of the things I love the most; public speaking. At the end of both debates my mind began the self destructive process of wondering what little thing I’d done that led to the butterfly effect of failure. I traced my entire journey to the first time I heard the topic I was to debate on…. I asked myself… Was I distracted? Did I have little time to prepare for this? Was it because I used this word and not that word? Did I pick the wrong outfit? Did I smile too little. For every loss, I am somehow convinced that it didn’t just happen and I was an active reason why things didn’t work out well.
Like I said, a curse.
Now the question remains “What do I do with my knowledge of the butterfly effect?”
Do I live my life, taking each tiny event as they come, completely independent of other events?
Do I live my life like a sequel, knowing that even the smallest events lead up to the biggest events?
Or do I just publish this post hoping that you my lovely reader have an answer to my questions?
How do you live your life? Would you tell me?
PS: Apologies if I ruined a great movie for you❤❤
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