The Twilight Hours or a Journey Begun

by M. Savi

I lay on my hospital bed, unbelieving. The shock of the past few hours was still fresh, piercing and would never go away. Not that I was aware of it at the time.

In a state of animated shock, I stared at my surroundings. I was in a hospital ward, So I had recovered from the anesthesia. I remembered being wheeled into the operating room by the cheerful Pakistani nurse, who for some reason, seemed to be in an affable mood. The Ghanaian anesthetist who seemed so sympathetic that I’d wondered if he was about to start crying with me. The African American surgeon who was distant, warm and cold all the same time. The good looking Chinese doctor who had admitted me and recommended surgery. As I lay there on my hospital bed, they all flashed through my mind. In slow motion, in clear detail.

The nurse walked up to me.
“How are you feeling now? You’ve been asleep for a while”

My mouth was dry, but I managed to acknowledge her greeting. She was black, a little below medium height, and plumpish, but not too much so. She was professionally detached, and seemed cheerful. I watched her jot down some notes on my medical record hanging at the foot of the bed.

Would I ever be normal again, like her? I felt drained, empty and dazed.

The nurse was asking me something. I forced my self to focus.

“Would you like something to drink? You can eat now- though nothing too heavy. Crackers …apple juice..?”

My throat was feeling parched. I said juice and crackers would be okay.

“I’ll be back in a couple of minutes with your snack. Let me know if you need anything else, okay?”

She’d checked my dressings, made sure I was comfortable, helped me prop up my pillow and adjust the bed.

I wanted my mom. She was far away, in Nigeria, and I wondered if she’d been informed of my brush with death yet. The news would probably send her to the hospital- she was rather high strung and we, her kids, had often raised her blood pressure over the years. But nothing like this so far. Nothing like this… I wished my mom was there to take care of me…

Unbidden, the tears rolled down. I wiped them away. I had to be strong even though I was drained of strength.

My last memory had been in the operating room. I remembered wondering if I was going to survive the surgery. I’d had a doctor friend perform an operation in Nigeria which had gone awry. For no reason at all, the woman had unexpectedly died from the anesthesia, and the resulting furor was nasty. Her grieving husband demanded redress, and most of the staff involved later either moved out of the country or to other jobs. It was a very destabilizing experiencing and I always felt the pain in my friend’s voice whenever he talked about that time.

As I was wheeled into surgery, I recall feeling tense, unbelieving and intensely worried. The cheerful Pakistani nurse tried to chat and improve my spirits. I knew she was probably aiming to cheer me up in her own way, but I got even more depressed. I wanted my mother. I also wondered if I’d survive the experience, or if this was my last day on earth. I wondered if I was ready to meet God. What really was on the other side, and would I find out today.

I was propped for surgery, then noticed the anesthetist was Ghanaian. He made small talk while he and the other staff inserted various needles and tubes into my prone body. He seemed very sympathetic, and reassured me things would be okay. How I wished I could believe him…he commented on my Nigerian name, and explained how the anesthesia was going to work- first I would inhale from the mask, then I’d find myself drifting off slowly .it might take more than one try…

His voice was soothing, calming, and I accepted the inevitable.

I inhaled. I noticed the African American doctor, and some other medical staff of all hues and colors. The African American doctor was the lead surgeon, who would be performing the actual surgery. There were other doctors there too. I recognized the Asian doctor who’d diagnosed me, the white female resident who’d also seen me when I was brought in, and others who I couldn’t recognize. I’d been introduced to most of them at one point or the other after I came in.

With the exception of the anesthetist and the nurse, they were all rather detached, in sharp contrast to my depressed nervousness.

For some reason, I felt disappointed in myself. I didn’t know why, but I felt as if I’d let myself down. I wondered how my body could treat me this way.

Then all was twilight, and I woke up in the hospital ward, gazing from a distance, seeing the faces of those who cared. The long road to recovery.

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1 comment

dynmma January 13, 2008 - 10:41 am

I hope you are now doing better.


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