Sunday, October 21, 2007

Tough Times

I went inside the room of my patient to talk to him. I saw he was awake but he was covering his head with the blanket.

"Good morning Mr. Garcia"

He kept his head covered with the blanket and pretended he couldn't hear me.

"Good morning Mr. Garcia" I said again.

Now he started snoring, pretending he was asleep.

My patient, Mr. Garcia, was not a 5-year old kid. He is 72. What he was doing was a defence mechanism that many sick people have when they get sick, it's called regression.

A lot of people, even the smart intellectual ones, do the same when they become sick. They start behaving like kids, or regressing.

I am no exception.

Towards the end of my medical school, I underwent a surgery for which I stayed for 4 days in the hospital. I was a pain in the ass. All nurses and doctors hated me. I kept asking for certain kinds of food they didn't have. I screamed and moaned and was a total bitch to everyone including my roommate who was an old man a hundred times sicker than me.

A story that I'll never forget was that of Zahra, 25-year old girl from the West Bank who was being treated in King Hussein Cancer Center. She had a rare cancer that was really eating her bones and flesh. Her mother came with her in her trip to Amman and was staying with her all the time. One day I was called because the young lady was refusing to take her medications.

I went to talk to her mother, a relatively old lady who you can tell from the look on her face that she's been through a lot.

She told me, "Zahra is not taking her medications, and she is angry at me"

"Why is she angry"

"She wants Manakeesh bi Za3tar , where can I find these manakeesh?? I looked in the cafeteria they don't have them. I went up the Jordan University Hospital cafeteria and didn't find any. Ma fee manakeesh!"

It was 10 pm. I went and talked to Zahra who was crying a lot. I was trying to talk her into taking the pills, but Zahra wasn't talking at all. She was crying and crying and it was clear that it wasn't all about the manakeesh, but perhaps her devastation about her illness. Her helplessness and feelings of defeat were transformed into rage on her beloved mother, and she started behaving like a little kid who won't do anything unless she eats these manakeesh.

I took her pills from the nurse and gave it to her, and to my surprise she did take them. A week later she developed a nasty infection in her blood and was transferred to the ICU. Her cancer was fairly advanced and the infection was untreatable. She died the next day and her mother returned alone to the West Bank.

Between Zahra's ocean of tears and Garcia's acting in the bed, I realized that the little child in you is the real thing. He's the one who cries for you, the one who screams the hysterical laughs out of your mouth, the one who senses the dangers and the one who lives with you all the way.
He's with you because he is you.

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

Did she atleast get to have a man2osheh before she passed away ?!

secratea said...

jad allah ye3eenhum elli 3arfeeen enno they are dying, and can't help shake the fear away...

Allah yerhamha ow yerhamna jamee3an...

asoom said...

oh my god this completely describes one of my close friend's grandmother who is at her last days now. As of today she's no longer "aware" but the past couple of days she was acting like a child having temper tantrums, yelling at people to leave her room, screaming at people on the phone, asking for specific items and then deciding she didn't want them when they were brought to her, etc.

Maioush said...

allah yer7amha b ra7meto.. tayeb jad, did she have her man2oosheh before she passsed away? PLZ tell me yes allah y5aleeek!

Hareega said...

Well she asked for that man2ooshesh at 10 at night so she didn't get any, I know her mother was going to look for one next day and I don't know if she found one or not, but that's not the point. The girl wouldn't have felt better if she had it, it was just a way of diverting her emotions to a different kind of emotion with a different kind of behavior.

asoom, interesting story!

Sophia said...

Hareega,
I believe in every word you said, Yes, there is a small child inside everyone of us, which likes to be cuddled sometimes, by your spouse, mother, sister/brother or even a dear friend.
Just think why do people still celebrate their birthdays, even when they cross their 50s? :-)

But, I really wish and pray to God that the small child inside me does not get exposed in bad situations, just like Zahra. I find myself forced to repeat what "secratea" said:"Allah yerhamha ow yerhamna jamee3an"
Amin.

PALFORCE said...

:.-(

Allah yer7amha bera7meto, weysabber ahelha.

We all have buried emotions that can be spelled out for the most unusual reasons.

Anonymous said...

She may have felt better, psychologically! Haven't you ever seen Patch Adams?

There is that inner child in every one of us. From the day we are born we are taught how to repress it. Stop talking before thinking. Stop doing everything at whim. Respect others. Don't shout or scream. Blah Blah. But when you're put in such a situation, the rules we have made for our societies don't matter anymore. Being "you" is much easier with all the other things to worry about!

kinzi said...

Greãt post, Hareega!

I used to think all that 'ínner child' talk was psychological mumbo-jumbo, but have come to realize it is very true. There is a time to put away negative childish behaviours, as they hurt people. But there is also a time to go back and embrace the wonder of it all as we did before the world jaded us.

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