The stretcher helper
The stretcher helper has always been one area we struggled with, but Alhamdulillah managed it somehow. For the last review, Rajettan had returned to help out, but this time he had taken up a job and couldn’t come. I was happy that he had finally found a job. God bless him. My dad although the handyman around the house, at his age was impossible to handle the stretcher and me on it all on his own. So we were able to get hold of my cousin Shibu, who was free to help out that day. So it was still the same drill, The ambulance ride with my partner, the stopover for the shot at the casualty, and wheeling me down to Dr. Shahid’s OP.
The Casualty procedure had become a set routine too. Whenever I would reach there, the staff knew what had to be done. Dr. Askhar used to inform them ahead of time in the earlier days but now once they see those external fixators and my bald head – they knew! It was a familiar sight for the staff and I was getting familiar with the faces there too.
The wait at OPD
Waiting in front of Dr. Shahid’s OP usually meant a wait around close to 10 to 20 minutes max, but this day they had a lot of cases, and the wait was longer than expected. This time my dad also accompanied me. After a while, I saw Dr. Harin walk by then turn around and give a quick look at me and then walk over. I think I kinda remember saying something like “Hey man ! Looks like a busy day at OP huh??” ( definitely the shot talking there ). Dr. Harin goes in through the OP door and about 10 to 15 minutes later I get wheeled in. I saw Dr.Askhar, he was talking with another patient, about things like where it hurt and what happened and all. He then turned towards me and said ” Sorry man very busy morning ” I replied, “It’s ok, no worries ” ( I could wait for these guys for all the service they were doing for me ) Besides there were much worse cases that needed their attention, much more than me.
After a few minutes the OP staff, Shameem, and Prajesh, the new guy in place of Junais ( Juanis had traveled to the middle east for better prospects) with a 180-degree turn of my stretcher trolley to park me into my usual spot. With Prajeesh holding the fixator to life my leg up, the gift wrappings came off,
Dr. Shahid came from the Op section to hold my thigh and once the wrappings came off, there was excitement about the skin grafting and it really caught on. The credits go to Dr. Harin!! Truly a work of Art. I asked Dr. Harin if he was interested in painting or drawing. He replied that he used to like it in 2nd grade, and now he doesn’t. To which Dr. Shahid replied, ” Now he does artwork with skin !!!” I couldn’t agree more. In the next review, it might be ready to remove the staples. Anyway, they cleaned it up, applied the meds, and gift-wrapped it back,
I asked about the left thigh and they said they will not touch it till another week or so. Unless I wanted to go through some serious stinging pain sessions. I passed, my daily commode visits give me enough of that. With that Dr. Shahid also mentioned as it healed it will start to itch slightly, and there would be a stench. But nothing to worry about, the skin ‘harvested’ area would heal on its own in about 2 weeks’ time.
It was time to head back, the exit procedure was usually I get wheeled out of the OP and wait around for the staff ( pilots ) to arrive to wheel me down the corridor to the entrance. While we waited there Dad was getting a wee bit impatient, He asked ” Why can’t we just drive the stretcher trolley ourselves?”, considering my partner was also there. ” I said, ” No we aren’t qualified and don’t have the license to drive it !!” Although I was joking, I don’t think it’s as easy as it looks, perhaps once I am back on my feet I probably have a go at it, for now, I go with letting the stretcher pilots do their job. As all this was in discussion, the staff came and took me over to the entrance where I would then wait for my partner to go get the meds from the pharmacy and become an object of attention, drawing stares from all around. I have already mentioned that it would have been much better if those stares actually turned into conversations. As always Ambali was there at the entrance to have a few words. She would ask my partner about our well-being and would go back to her desk.
A stare turns into a kind wish
This time one of those stares did turn into a conversation. I saw an old lady in a burqa and her little grandchild about 3 or 4 yrs of age, staring at me, darting her eyes between my face and the external fixator. She walks up to me and asks me “Does it hurt ?” I answer “Not much “and am given a shot for the pain. My voice is still sluggish a bit. She asks me what happened, and I answer “Accident” Bike? I said Yes. Then she says ” May Allah heal you soon” I smile back and thank her for the duas ( prayers ). She as if reading my mind, tells me she is here with her daughter for a checkup. Then motions to the little boy in her hands and says, ” My grandson ” I nod with a smile. Her daughter who was at the reception walks over tugs the old lady’s arms and says “Let’s go mother ” As she passes by looks over to me and then with raised eyebrows stares at the external fixators as she walks out. Her mother wishes me once more as she walks past me. I give a smile at the kid who stares at me blankly and I make a face at him with a smile, the kid smiles back and tries to get his grandmother’s attention pointing at me. Kids are always fun to goof off with even when I am in sedation. Ah, it’s times like this I miss my own.
Feeling good about the small yet somewhat special conversation, I lay staring at the ceiling – a view I have gotten pretty used to by now. My thoughts are broken as my dad walks up and tells me the Ambulance is ready and my partner is back from the pharmacy. I still get stares as I get myself onto the Ambulance, I usually just raise my spectacles to my forehead at this point but I could make out Ambili standing by my partner and waving goodbye. I give her a wave as I get pushed into the Ambulance. Then heading home- another day out all’s well.
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