Monday, December 3, 2012

The parentheses [Part III]

Was my surgery on the 29th or the 30th of November? I don't remember anymore, I'm starting to think it was on the 30th... Yeah, that's it, it was on the 30th but I entered the hospital on the 29th! I got to Paris on the 27th night. I don't remember what I did on the 28th but one thing is sure, I had sushi for dinner. On the 29th I had lunch with my parents at "Les Deux Magots" then we directly went to the hospital. The surgery was going to be done in the famous Saint-Vincent De Paul hospital and then I was going to be transferred to Garche. It was the first time I go to that hospital and the image is still very clear in my head. In the entrance of the hospital, the walls were covered with very colorful childish drawings of animals. We took the elevator and went to the assigned floor. I discovered the room I was going to spend my pre-surgery night in. My first reaction was: "There's 2 beds! I hope I won't have a roommate". I chose the bed that was closer to the window. Sleeping at a hospital was a new experience for me and I couldn't but fear it. Thankfully, I wasn't going to spend the night alone. I had the choice between my mom and my aunt Dima who lives in Paris. Dima got married and left Lebanon before I was born and since she didn't have kids until I was 9, she used to spoil me and my siblings and get us a lot of gifts every time she came to Lebanon. She has always been some sort of second mother to us. So choosing between her and mom to spend that night with me wasn't based on who I felt more comfortable around. My choice was driven by another factor which is: which of them can handle more? And the answer was Dima because I knew my mom was going to suffer if I had asked her to stay that night. Before joining us at the hospital, Dima called to ask if I wanted her to get me anything. I asked her for a bag of strawberry Harribo candies but of course, she got huge quantities of all the possible brands or variations of strawberry candies! After Dima came, a nurse passed by my room to tell me that I had to get ready for the Betadine shower. If you've never heard about Betadine then your lucky. But let me explain it to you. Betadine is some sort of brownish liquid that is used for disinfecting the skin. Its major component is iodine and it has the worst smell ever. I had to take a shower with a Betadine shampoo! I'll let you imagine how annoying that was. Oh and, it totally fucks your hair. I remember asking if I was allowed to use hair conditioner afterwards so that I could brush my hair but of course the answer was negative. Why did I care anyway? At night, dad got me and Dima smoked salmon sandwiches since I didn't want to eat hospital food. I've always felt that hospital food makes the person sicker than he/she actually is. You might think that I'm a spoiled girl and I wouldn't deny that. But what's wrong with being spoiled if you know the value of the things you get and you appreciate them? My parents raised me and my sibling on the principle that money won't go with us to the grave; thus we shall spend it on us and on helping the people in need. After dinner, a nurse passed by my room to give me an "Atarax" pill which is supposed to help me relax. I told her I was fine and asked if it was necessary. She surprisingly told me that I was aloud not to take it. In my head, this was a victory. When you're 14, you're sick of people who consider you a kid and the slightest rebellion can make you feel proud. Another rebellion was that I refused to sleep that night. But this wasn't a random rebellion. The thing is, I knew Dima wasn't going to sleep and I didn't want her to worry alone all night. So I spent the night playing The Sims 2 on my laptop and explaining to her how it works. At around 11:00PM, a 4-year-old girl and her dad joined the room. The girl had just finished an appendicitis surgery and there were no other rooms available in the hospital. I wasn't really bothered by them since the girl was sleeping and her dad was watching a DVD on his laptop. Starting midnight, I wasn't allowed to eat nor drink anything. This was actually easier than I had imagined. I was afraid of getting thirsty but it didn't happen. At around 6:00AM, I had to take another Betadine shower and wear a hospital blouse. This was even worse than the first time. A nurse gave me "Atarax" and this time, I didn't refuse it. The rebellion was done so it was meaningless to refuse again. Also, I knew that this time it wasn't an option. I still wasn't nervous at all though. So I took the pill but I didn't feel any change. At around 8:00AM my parents came and I had to be taken to the operating bloc. I was kind of nervous but I didn't show it because I didn't want my mom to worry more than she already was. The situation was hard for me but it was much harder for her. It's like all the dangerous things in life, it's easier to accept them on yourself than to see them happening to someone you love. And the last image of my mom was with tears in her eyes and a forced smile. In the room where the surgery was going to happen, I first met the anesthesia doctor. He talked to me and asked me if I was alright. I said I was fine and didn't show any sign of anxiety. I'm not sure if I saw the surgeon or not. Then came the time when I had to breath chloroform and fall asleep. I was really excited about that part because I wanted to know how long I was able to stay awake while breathing chloroform (anesthetic gas). Of course I don't know how many inhales it took me to fall asleep but I'm pretty sure than it was more than 5. I can't really tell because it wasn't a gradual process, I fell asleep suddenly. Next thing I remember is that I woke up in the ambulance that was taking me to Garche and Dima was there smiling. The image is kind of blurry but I remember that I couldn't feel my back, as if it was made of steel. I think I fell asleep again because I don't remember going out of the ambulance. I only remember waking up in Garche's rehabilitation room. Mom was there, I tried to talk but noticed that I had respiratory tubes. It was so frustrating because communication was impossible. Mom explained to me that the surgery was successful but that it took the surgeon 9 hours. Back then, I didn't realize how hard that must have been to her and all the family. I knew everyone would call from Beirut every 30 minutes. If I was her, I don't know how I would've handled that. Anyway, the nurses came after a while and removed my respiratory tubes. It was such a relief. I don't remember the end of that day but the next one was one of the worst. The nurses woke me up quite early to check what I wanted to have for breakfast. I asked what were the options and they replied: "do you want bread, butter and jam with cocoa milk?". It was fine with me until I understood that at hospitals, even breakfast has no taste! The jam was actually a commercial tasteless jelly that was too jelly to be spread on the bread. The bread was too hard and the cocoa milk was light pink because it barely had cocoa in it. I know that I should be thankful and that some people are dying from hunger but when you're at the hospital, and you don't even feel like eating but you do because you have to, the minimum thing is to have food that has taste. I barely ate. Oh and with breakfast came half a dozen of pills I had to take. Usually, I would've been curious to know ask about their utility but that day I didn't have the energy to do so. After breakfast, the nurses came and told me that they were going to do my "toilette". I first brushed my teeth and washed my face. They rubbed my body with shampoo then wiped it with water. This sounds simple but when you're laying in bed, it becomes hellish and you feel sticky afterwards because wiping the shampoo with a wet towel isn't the best thing. Also, should I mention the lack of privacy you feel when strangers dress you up? It made me feel very uncomfortable but it's not like I had a choice anyway. Then they changed the bedsheets and I thought I was done but of course it wasn't the case. A nurse told me he has to take some of my blood to do tests on it. He showed me a small device that had a needle at its end. Basically, he puts it on the tip of my finger and presses it so that it pierces my skin and blood comes out. I can't tell you that it wasn't painful but surprisingly, it didn't hurt as much as I was expecting it to. It is later that I understood this quasi absence of pain: morphine. I wasn't aloud to sit straighter than a 35° angle. I was bored and started wondering why my parents weren't there. I asked one of the nurses about them and she replied that visits weren't allowed before 12:00PM. That was cruel! I needed a human presence next to me. I needed someone that doesn't treat me as a kid or should I say as number? I wasn't dumb, I knew the nurses were there just because it's their job. I asked them if I could call my parents but they told me they didn't have their number. I was alone and lonely. Then I hear the phone ringing. A nurse picks up. I hear her saying something like "She's fine, she's resting now. No, you'll talk to her later". I asked the nurse if it was my aunt but she denied. I had a feeling it was her but I wasn't sure at all. And arguing with the nurse would have made me seem crazy specially if it wasn't my aunt who called. I felt like a freak who is hallucinating! One second the nurse was a sadistic person who wanted me to suffer, the next I was thinking how absurd and silly were my thoughts. You can't imagine how frustrating that was! And for some reason I started crying. I cried my lungs out. I cried because I was tired of being treated as a naive and emotionless being. I needed conversation. And all that the nurses did was to tell me that it was fine to cry.

6 comments:

  1. it's so well told that i feel like a stranger reading a story that happened to someone else. you sure are gifted my Nour

    ReplyDelete
  2. I really love love this . Not that I I love what you've been through but I can slightly imagine how it felt. I just love how you told this. And btw u did it ! :) u thought u couldn't nd u wrote this. Thanks for sharing :* its amazing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank YOU for always asking for more :]

      Delete
  3. You made me want to cry... I admire you Nour for how you go through everything with a smile on your face. I admire you for showing how strong of a person you are. Right now I really want to hug you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Anonymous, claim your hug and you'll get it :] (unless you're smelly...)

      Delete