Nothing can compare when you look at flesh, specially if it’s your own. Isn’t interesting where there is a human being who is separate from you, yet you feel that every fiber of that human being is your own? If an external or internal organ is affected, and it might not be even part of your anatomy, you feel as if you got affected too. The only thing that zooms in and out of my mind’s focus lens is the sight of that red tender organ. I approached it with doubt, claiming it not to be mine. There were expressionless faces outside the separating door to operating rooms. These were the faces of people waiting for their loved ones to emerge from the operating rooms. On the other side of the door were the faces at the nursing station. Standing up, there were the faces in light blue medical blouses and trousers. These faces smiled while wearing a day to day business expression. In the midst of the faces, the day to day business, the medical beds out of the operating rooms appearing and disappearing, there sat crouched on the nurse’s station the red tender organ. It sat waiting for its owner to claim so that it would tell its story. However, a face or two were resentful that non-medical faces appeared in the sanctity of the operating rooms area, and they told us so. We told them we were here at the doctor-surgeon’s request. And from among the faces, the face we had been looking for with high expectations appeared. He sent for us to reassure us. After he reassured us, we and the red tender organ became attached. If we were able to take and run back ourselves and plaster where it had come from, we would have done it. But what was done was done, God played His Hand, and the players were all now well stationed and all that remained was a memory.
It had been several days that my daughter had been complaining from a severe stomach ache. I medicated her, given the standard parents reassuring prescription of gastric cleansing medication and aspirin. The pain had gone away and she was back to normal with a healthy appetite. From a parent’s point of view, there was nothing to be alarmed about.
Then on a Friday, she starting feeling this pain again. Fortunately for me, there is a medical doctor living in my same apartment building. I knocked on his door early in the morning, about 7 am. He opened the door in his boxer shorts, and top underwear. He scrutinized me with suspicion for this so called early in the morning ring on the door bell. I told him the case and he told me that it would take five minutes for him to get down. It took longer than five minutes, but eventually he did come down. He examined her, and after a few questions, diagnosed her case as her tonsils being inflamed. As a result of the inflammation, puss had gone down to her stomach causing disturbance in the digestive system, and as a result the feeling of pain. He prescribed antibiotic through injection and pain relief pills. We started her treatment the next day for the lack of better medical services on a Friday, which is a holiday in this part of the world.
Three days went by and my daughter seemed to get back to normal. Her appetite improved. Her vital signs were good. She was vivacious and had a lot of friends who called her over the phone and she called them back. Serenity was coming back slowly to our lives. We were ever so grateful to the good doctor for his sound medical advice for which he refused to receive a penny, being our good neighbor.
Then I went to my part-time work in the evening. I was in good spirits because this was the last class I am going to teach before I go on a much deserved holiday with my family. While in class and the students are in an exam, I got a phone call telling me that the symptoms are reoccurring with constant throwing up. This time, my wife went to an expensive clinic, and the doctor who examined my daughter told her this was an appendectomy and she should straight to the nearest hospital to have an operation done. My wife asked my over the phone where she should go. So I told her to go the hospital nearest to home. My wife took her and went. While my daughter was in excruciating pain, the hospital staff told her they have to do ultra-sound imaging and wait for the doctor surgeon to arrive. Once the ultra-sound images were out, the doctor in charge did not know how to interpret them. So he advised my wife that it would be better to wait for a Gynecologist. My wife, being impatient or mistrusting of the hospital staff or both, preferred to call her own Gynecologist. The good Gynecologist told her to come right over as he had state of the art equipment that could diagnose the case instantly.
In that direction, my wife went and other members of the family went to him. There he had colored ultra-sound images. It showed there something of substantial size near the appendix and the right ovary. What was it? It was hard to determine. Was there surgical intervention necessary? It was hard to determine. But once the Gynecologist could not determine, he refereed my wife, daughter and company to a surgeon and he was supposed to be the best.
That’s where I joined them. It’s funny how we determine aspects of our lives with looks and behaviours. As I walked in, I saw the worried face of my wife, the questioning face of my wife’s cousin, the pale face of my daughter and the overconfident face of the surgeon. He talked a lot. The bottom line we were the main cause of my daughter delayed state of health. It was a case of appendix but we ignored it or over-simplified it. Then we felt him take us on a swing as he gave us directions then changed them or retracted them. Apparently it was so late at night that even the required scanning imaging necessary were not available. But he still told us we have to admit her to hospital, then he said he thought there might not be any hospital rooms available this late at night. But he did try to get us to go to hospital but we three, I, my wife and her cousin had a different opinion. The man was so accusing, so laid back, so vague and unspecific that we doubted that this was doctor’s milking trick to get money out of us. As I looked at my daughter, she seemed to be sleeping in peace. She was exhausted. She had been throwing up since 5 pm and it was now close to midnight. I reconsidered and preferred to wait till morning when a specialist, referred to by wife’s cousin, would have a look at her.
She slept that night in peace and woke up in pain. She came to me and complained to me. She told me that she couldn’t stand the pain. She told me now that feels it all the time. She, her mother and I went to the emergency room of the highest profile hospital in the country. The same questions of every examination and the same diagnostic procedures were conducted by none less than three doctors. Meanwhile, my daughter was in pain. She was throwing up till she was throwing up the nothing that there was to throw up.
Then the hospital asked for the third in the series of ultra-sound imaging. Her mother and I still had to wait till the diagnosis of the doctor on shift. He told me the strangest thing. He told me that her uterus was 9 cm in diameter and that was a bit large for a female of her age. I asked him how that is strange. He had no answer. While we were sitting there, he got a mysterious phone call. Based on that phone call, he repeated the ultra-sound and he admitted he looked at my daughter’s internal organs the wrong way and that her uterus was of normal size. So, what was strange? A mass that looked the boxer’s punching ball appeared in the images. What was it? It was still hard to determine. However, according to several doctors’ opinion we met in that hospital, surgical intervention would probably not be necessary.
We went back to the emergency room. We got in touch surgeon my wife’s cousin referred to. We were admitted to hospital. However, we had to stay in the emergency room till there was a vacancy. After a while, they called us and told us there was room available.
We tried to reassure our daughter, while on nutrition supplements jacked into her veins, and a supplement of pain killers introduced into her tiny body in the emergency room till the doctors said that any more than that dose would do more harm than good, that everything will be alright.
In walked the surgeon with Grecian features with all his glory. He seemed like a Venus walking in the room with his crown of red hair flaring in the room. He conducted the diagnosis in the same exact way we had seen the last five doctors do. He made his sacred proclamation that this was 99% and appendix case and 1% anything else. This required immediate surgery to find out what the cause was. I immediately felt the contradiction between what were told by so many and he just foretold. I asked him as politely as I could remember if he had looked at the ultra-sound images. He rose in his glory and told me that without looking he already knew what the case was. No wonder, they call them God-players. I looked in desperation at my over anxious wife, at my agonized daughter and the overwhelming surgeon demanding a decision. What was I supposed to do?
The procedures passed in a flash. Before I knew it, I was signing papers of consent. My daughter was being prepped for the operation. It seemed so serious yet so casual. We would not see our own flesh and blood for the next couple of hours and yet it seemed such a relief compared to the last few hours of anxiety. Our daughter would be cut open by the promise of a human being whose promises on the scale of promises would not be any more important than a father promising his kid an expensive toy on the way back from work.
An hour passed by. Too soon in my book was the call. But call us the surgeon did. I would never forget the words. The message was that he called to reassure us. Was our daughter alive? Yes. That was reassuring. Was she out of danger? Yes. That was reassuring. Was she in the process of de-etherized? Yes. That was reassuring. Then what was there to worry about?
We were there at the grim door to the operation room sight. The door that determines in what condition human being come out after they come in. I saw patients come out with smiles on their faces. I same patients being received by their loved ones as if they were waiting for them to disembark from a roller coaster ride, unsure of the consequences. But our daughter was no where in sight. Why did we come down then?
We moved, by authorization, past the door to the operation room. The first thing to meet our eyes was that red tender organ. At first sight, it looked like a heart or at best a kidney. Doubt came to my mind that this was my daughter’s. Then I shook the thought because I thought this would be too big to be in the body of an 11 year old child.
Then, no mistake, the red hair came flaring by. He saw us as if he had spotted two acquaintances. Then he went back to red tender organ and told us, for once in this whole ordeal, the whole and undisputed truth. He told us that things were so bad that he had to remove her whole right ovary. How would receive such news first? Do you receive with you hearing organ? With your mind? With your heart? My eyes were looking but my heart was saying: please undo this. Please say it isn’t so. Please take it back and come up with a different diagnosis, procedures. But the severely confident, Grecian featured, silk handed surgeon had made his mark. And thus I am the father, and he was the tool I used to have my daughter lead a different path in life. The same tool told us to keep this quiet, a heavy secret that only her mother and I bore for the rest of our lives.
We went up, reassured. We now knew. We now knew our daughter was safe. We now knew our daughter was out of pain. We now knew that soon we would have her back. We now knew she lives missing a vital part of the female anatomy. The only thing we didn’t know was why?
How many times has the sun come up and go down since being the hospital? That didn’t matter any more. People came to visit and wish us well and congratulate us on her good health. We lied. We told them it was an appendectomy when it wasn’t. What a paradox with everyone saying what a minor operation it was. These people saying that had when they were 11 and other saying it was an inevitable operation and had to be done. When I remember what they said and how much of the world could be turned around to be a knife stabbed in the heart.
Her room had a view of the Nile. Probably my daughter didn’t care too much as she was in so much pain after the operation. Not only did she have the struggle with the pain before the operation but she had to struggle with real agonizing pain after the operation because of the incision she had. She had to struggle post operation constipation, difficulty of movement, even post operation depression.
I went out of the room and headed towards the large pane window further to the right of her room. The words of a song I rarely heard came lingering into my mind. It might have been the mood I was in. It might be just what I remember in the situation I was in.
When the feelings gone and you can't go on
When the morning cries and you don't know why
It’s hard to bear
With no-one to love you you’re
When you lose control and you got no soul
When the morning cries and you don't know why
It’s hard to bear
With no-one to love you you’re
As I turned to my right, I saw a door decorated with heart shaped balloons in pink and white. On the door, the words “Welcome, baby girl” were pinned with white letters. I felt it to be a good omen.