EMERGENCY ROOM

EMERGENCY ROOM

A Story by Glennise Ayuk
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One doesnt usually expect the spur that brings the awakening..For this young doctor, it was one seemingly random day in the Emergency Room. This is a piece of creative non-fiction.

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EMERGENCY ROOM


     I stood there on the corridors, shoulders sagged, feeling helpless. It was hard to describe what I’d just experienced. Her blood stain was still on my scrubs. Some had spilled on my shoes too, when Mrs. Florence Rabbi-Arrey had been brought in by her fourteen year old son. She had been in pain and bleeding per vagina. I was the obstetrician on call.

     Actually, she had tried to hide the real story when I asked. The need to escape the piercing claws of humiliation and shame has far surpassed women’s, and indeed a universal desire, for truth and transparency. She didn’t want me to know what she had actually done. I’m a doctor though, so I recognized the trend, from the way she mixed words and dates, couldn’t remember this and that, and kept saying “I’ll be fine.” Her last normal menstrual period, the gestational age, she had even attempted a completely different story to derail me, so I wouldn’t realize she had been pregnant for fifteen weeks!

     We had done the initial resuscitation. She was stable. Her son joined us then. He was tired of keeping up the façade, he said. Sadly, his mum had lived it so long, even she couldn’t tell what was real from what wasn’t. I momentarily reflected again how in truth, there’s a lot of us who are lost on those terms too. With a huge gap between the perfect super naturals we want to be and the flawed mortals we truly are, the journey becomes more pressured, and any falling short of expectations or exposition of reality is met with sheer frustration and devastation. The pursuit of perfection, or at least the ability to portray it, the march of gay dogs, is a journey that demands great sacrifice. Most times, after walking great distances, we still cannot nearly grasp the mirage, so we’re stranded halfway, haunted and discontented. Even those who apparently get there still cannot sleep at night because a lot of real and fake things had been interchanged and the end, surprisingly becomes inadequate to justify the means. The consequence is confusion and perfection is missing in confusion.

     “We visited a “quartier doc” her son interrupted my thoughts. He said that, looking at her, not me. Her head was bowed down. (“Quartier docs” were unlicensed practitioners who carried out medical procedures in the slumps behind closed doors).

     “Dad does force her to sleep with him, each time he comes back home drunk and smelly in the middle of the night. Hits her too and it happens often. She fights back sometimes, but hardly for long. Says she loves him. Other times, she’s sorry for him. I’ve never understood why she doesn’t just walk out on the beast.”

     Tears pushed and spilled unto Miss Rabbi-Arrey’s cheeks. I verified her age. The notes said thirty-two, but God, she looked like fifty. I wonder whether ageing is the disease we should all be dreading. There’s all those masks we wear every day that hide the things that truly damage the face. The things like broken dreams, oppression, need for validation, and sad submission which suffocate the soul. These are the culprits that degrade the integrity of our looks.

     “She doesn’t have a job, you know, that’s why she couldn’t come here first. I see you’re new here. Just so you know, in this part of the country, it is common culture for men to stop their wives from keeping jobs.”

     “They say it empowers women inappropriately.”

    “What do you think?” I couldn’t help asking him.

    “I think they’re intimidated.”

     My sigh of relief. There’s always a star for every dark night. One bird with red feathers in a flock of white, who stands out and sets pace. Come to think of it, there’s so many things for all of us to stand out about.

     “The “quartier doc” is cheap, but his methods are crude. I was horrified as I watched him reach in and remove my younger brother or sister. But I was far more disturbed by the obvious humiliation my mother wore like a dress, it was a halo that completely enveloped her. As she lay there, legs drawn up and parted, the vulnerability of the moment swept and overwhelmed her in a tide of very similar memories.”

     “Her thought were so loud. I could hear them. A moth that never became a butterfly. A chick clipped and caged since the day it’s shell was broken. I’m sure she was wishing things were different. So was I.” he finished.

    I placed a hand on her shoulder to show empathy. As my fingers grazed the skin on her neck, I was switched back to alarm mode. She was clammy and cold. I checked her vital signs. Her temperature was 37degrees Celsius. That was normal. Pulse was 167, with ++ intensity and her blood pressure had dropped to 70/65mmHg. Those figures were alarming. No cc’s of urine yet. That wasn’t good.

     Apparently, the intravenous fluids weren’t stabilizing circulation. She needed transfusion and preparation for surgery, I told them again. The “quartier doc” had perforated her uterus and the bleeding was persistent.

     She sat there silent, even when she heard me say a hysterectomy may be an option taken in the theatre, if suturing failed.

     “My mum will rather you just removed the womb, doctor.” That was her son.

     In other cases, given her age, I’ll insist for the patient to voice her consent, but I had just only begun to realize the paralysis of chronic oppression. Besides, the main issue at hand was the deposit payment for the surgery.

     “Keep her breathing” the little boy said with conviction. “I’ll be back with the money, even if I have to kill for it.”

     I wanted to take her to the theatre then. To save her, even just for that boy’s sake. But the hospital had its policies. And frankly, I wonder whether Mrs. Rabbi-Arrey wanted to be saved. I wish I’d asked her.

     Her eyes followed her son as he walked away. Isn’t life strange? Sometimes we sit thinking how the whole world is against us, but really, I believe that we are never without a friend. We just may not always know who they are. I believed the boy. He loved his mother enough to kill for her.

     You know what puzzles me the most when I think back at that day? It was how Miss Rabbi-Arrey just entered a shell all the while we were there, talking and making decisions about her. But don’t we all freeze like that at some point or another? Just sit idly, from fear, sometimes despair, as our lives pass us by?

     As she gave her final breath, a certain courage possessed her, and you could see that it was alien to her.

     “Tell him when he returns, for he will return, that I couldn’t be more proud of the man he is. Tell him he’s the only reason I’m happy to have lived.”

     I sat there holding her hand for a couple of moments after she died. It’s so easy to judge other people. I mean, my opinion then was that she should not have been so passive about her life. Letting somebody else manipulate her emotions, control her body, deride her self esteem and orchestrate her outcome. How did she become so powerless, needy, accepting of so little? How could she?

     And then it struck me like lightening. I let go of her hands and walked purposefully to where my bag was kept. I didn’t let myself be distracted by anything or anyone, not even the sound of the flat line on the ECG. Almost like the least interruption will weaken my resolve or dilute the courage she seemed to have transmitted to me before she gave up one last time.

     As usual, it’s about four or five rings before he answered, sounding irritated and arrogant. With that kind of “love of my life,” was I in any position to judge Mrs. Rabbi-Arrey? I mean, I could afford decent medical care if I wanted, but I had been five years with a fine, imperfect gentleman who made me feel like it was my privilege he even looked at me. Mine may not be obvious to fourteen year old sons, but my self esteem and sense of self value were shattered, just like hers, and fear and shame, (that shame again!) had trapped us both, in dark spaces..

     “No!” I screamed into the phone in panic, interrupting those scary thoughts.

     “No, not me.” The five years were all coming back to me, and even I could not believe the emotional, moral and mental treadmill I’d been on.

     He hissed. “Is this some new ploy for attention? Because"“

     “No!” I interrupted. I was deadly calm.

     “I called to say I’m done here. It’s over. It is my most recent opinion that you’re sadly lacking in a lot of the qualities I deserve.”

     “What? What n"” I hung up before he could finish the line.

     I could never forget that day. As a doctor, I lost a patient and as woman, I gained myself.

     Sometimes we may need a jolt, a shake, a scream, blood, somebody, something. But sometimes, all we need is to look past shame, drop façades and cut the chase of “everyone’s approval”, and we’ll find that life indeed has a lot of fruit trees. If you think you deserve a harvest, grab your tools and go get it!


© 2017 Glennise Ayuk



Author's Note

Glennise Ayuk
For all my years in med school, there's no way medicine wouldn't ''contaminate'' my writing..I hope this piece inspires someone..

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Featured Review

Hmm, very self-reflective and an emotional evoking piece you've written. Its interesting in life that the hardships of others can remind us of the battles we're currently engaged in. This piece also speaks to how influential our mates in relationships be. We often become more like the person we're with and that can be positive or negative. Yet, I'd have to say through it all your relationships and adversities are apart of you, but they don't define who you are. We're the authors of our own stories at the end of the day. If I take anything from this, its that we constantly grow through every phase of our lives. Learning never stops and that's the spice of life. Thanks for writing this piece and giving me a glimpse into your life. I see more passion in you, than you see in yourself. :) take care and keep striving for more.

Posted 2 Weeks Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Glennise Ayuk

2 Weeks Ago

One of the most amazing feelings a writer can get is knowing your piece of writing related/connected.. read more



Reviews

Hmm, very self-reflective and an emotional evoking piece you've written. Its interesting in life that the hardships of others can remind us of the battles we're currently engaged in. This piece also speaks to how influential our mates in relationships be. We often become more like the person we're with and that can be positive or negative. Yet, I'd have to say through it all your relationships and adversities are apart of you, but they don't define who you are. We're the authors of our own stories at the end of the day. If I take anything from this, its that we constantly grow through every phase of our lives. Learning never stops and that's the spice of life. Thanks for writing this piece and giving me a glimpse into your life. I see more passion in you, than you see in yourself. :) take care and keep striving for more.

Posted 2 Weeks Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Glennise Ayuk

2 Weeks Ago

One of the most amazing feelings a writer can get is knowing your piece of writing related/connected.. read more

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Added on December 31, 2017
Last Updated on December 31, 2017
Tags: #story, #emergencyroom, #doctorwriter, #awakening