Saturday, September 24, 2005

Reality. Different to what I expected.

Here’s the fucked part:
When I was a child I used to worry that I had things too easy. I thought a bit of adversity might do me good. My father came from a family of eight (seven boys, one very frightened girl). His father was a professional soldier who was never home, then died when my dad was fifteen. His mother was a Lithuanian peasant who didn’t speak English. One of his brothers was alcoholic, another schizophrenic. My father didn’t know how old he was until he left school at fourteen and was told he was too young to work. He’s now a Professor of Gastroenterology. His entire personality is defined by the fact that he had faced his demons and conquered them.

Me, I had it cushy.

While everyone around me seemed to have parents who were getting divorced, fathers who drank, mothers who lied, brothers with rabbit fetishes, I lead the good life. I had great parents who stuck together, siblings who seemed to respect me, the ability to do well at school without even trying, a main part in the musical and lots of friends who loved me because I wasn’t good looking enough to be threatening but I wasn’t ugly enough to be a liability. I played lots of sports, I laughed hysterically on the phone with my girlfriends and I was the person people came to when they had problems because, although I seemed not to have many myself (apart from the small issue of shovelling food down my mouth to fill the dark void inside me), I was good at helping other people deal with theirs.

I remember wondering if God was preparing me for some massive future horror.

Now I know he was just softening me up for parenthood.

It’s Tuesday, the morning of O’s operation. We’re not allowed to feed her for 12 hours before the procedure. She’s used to eating every three hours. For 9 hours before we even get to the hospital she cries horribly. The starving cry I remember from videos of Ethiopian children in the eighties. Her little wet eyes look at me in confusion – why are you withholding food? R spots me trying to sneak her a bottle. Wisely he confiscates it. Then he ties my hands together with a rope. Or threatens to. Not in a sexy way.

The drive to the hospital takes an hour and a half in peak traffic. O cries the entire way there, alternating between a fierce, angry scream and a pathetic, starving whimper.

Once there it all happens quite fast. Weigh her, check her, assess her. I’m allowed into theatre to hold her until the drugs kick in and her lively eyes turn empty.

Hours. Hours. Hours. Lumped on top of each other like stale hot-dog buns. There are meant to be two of them but there are four. Then the call from the anaesthetist. The operation took longer than expected. We rush to the recovery room. Our limp baby is still knocked out. Machines on every limb. The doctor calls us aside to talk. I expect him to say the operation went well, it’s all over, she’ll be fine. The most he’ll give is that technically it was okay. Then a small hesitation. We found Something Else. It’s her spine. He tells me a lot of things to do with the way a normal spine forms and the way hers differs. He mentions that we will need an MRI, a referral to a neurologist and a neurosurgeon. He talks about the long-term implications of the condition he suspects that she has. We’re lucky to catch it now, he says. Yes, lucky, I think. Lucky like a cigarette.

While he is talking I feel R shrinking behind me. At one point I become unsure if he is even still in the room. Here I am, in a pristine, sterile environment and I feel this lovely doctor, this gentle kind man in his sixties, holding an axe which he repeatedly swings at me. With each question I ask, he swings the axe again. Soon it has cut into my flesh and is ripping bits out of me. R hides behind, dazed, absentmindedly wiping the blood off his lapel. Then the doctor leaves, the axe in hand, and I am left staring at my limp daughter. Wondering if she’ll ever be able to walk.


Blogger Calliope said...

I can not even imagine what you are going through. Your post was gut wrenching. What happens next? Is she still in hospital?
I am praying to a healing God.

11:22 pm  
Blogger Ova Girl said...

Horrible. I am so sorry YC, it's so unfair. And poor little baby O. Thinking of you and wishing and hoping all the best.


11:12 am  
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