Ifeoma Chinwuba

Miracle of Mercy, A true Story of Courage in the Face of Adversity,

Book review: by Ifeoma Chinwuba

Mercy Azo-Mbi with Paul T. Ayah, Westbrow Press, Bloomington, 2023. 120 pp

In Miracle of Mercy, the author shines the kliegs on a dark period in her life in the aftermath of a medical misdiagnosis in Ottawa. A young wife and mother, spouse of a high-ranking African diplomat, arrives Canada, a first-world country with high hopes for living it up, raising her young family, supporting her spouse wining and dining in high society. Her bon vivant is however, cut short literally and drastically, culminating in quadruple amputation. It is the stuff of classic tragedy, where the protagonist is flung from Mount Olympus, as it were, to earth.

This book is a silent J’Accuse and a wake-up call for a rejig of health care delivery in Ottawa.

This medical mamahuhu in a Third-world country could be overlooked or termed the will of God. But in Canada?

Miracle of Mercy narrates the author’s gargantuan ordeal in various health facilities for major surgery, (in and outside Canada), her rehab and the transformation she undergoes at the end of it all. The scarce attention she receives at the Ottawa Civic Hospital, after a lengthy wait for the ambulance, and another at the ER, to a misdiagnosis by an inexperienced and perhaps overworked doctor, who wilfully ignores her medical history. What about the indifference of the physicians, and their readiness to give up, putting pressure on the spouse to sign the DNR (Do not Resuscitate) that would enable them switch off the life support on the ground that death was certain and imminent in a couple of hours? (p. 13) The author ends up a prosthetic woman with two prosthetic heart valves, two prosthetic arms and two prosthetic legs (p.51).

The miracle in the eponymous title is not only that she survives this humongous medical upheaval; it is also that she retains her high spirits, enough to dispense advice and encourage others given the short end of the stick. Faced with the wife’s incapacitation, it behooves the husband to fight her battles. He is the hero of this book, sticking by his soul mate, seeking the best treatments and service providers, accompanying her on every step of this tortuous journey, and nursing her back to health, and remaining her ballast. I would therefore, recommend this book to couples and contemplators of marriage. In this book is ‘For better for worse, in sickness and in health,’ made flesh. The Azo-Mbi’s marriage is the gold standard of matrimony.

I would also recommend Miracle of mercy to patients suffering debilitating ailments, no matter their provenance. Ms. Azo-Mbi encourages that demographic to pick up the pieces and trudge on, rightly ending this memoir with ‘Pearls from My Pit’ (p.113) which include the exhortation to love oneself and transform horrible experiences to a positive force. From this perspective, the book is a motivational, self-help tome.

Stylistically, Miracle of Mercy is divided into three parts: Life-Changing Moments, Life-Changing Relationships and Life-Changing Lessons. The language is easy-flowing, and copiously sprinkled with adages, aphorisms and biblical passages, again a throwback to the divine intervention in her healing. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. Isaiah 43:2 (p. 19 ).

In addition, Miracle of Mercy aptly contains Before and After photos of the author. The community of helpers who rallied to her side also feature and are acknowledged, a counter-poise to the misogynoir exhibited by her initial care givers.

What is the downside? It must be the parts of the author’s life not recounted. This is expected, because a memoir must engage in triage to sieve the essence. All in all, the author adequately chronicles this segment of her life in a language that is accessible to the reader and actually telegraphs her charitable nature.

As the Azo-Mbi couple ends their stint in Ottawa and moves on to Pretoria, the author is still on Mount Olympus, just on another side.

Ifeoma Chinwuba

Ms. Chinwuba’s latest novel, Sons of The East, is out now.