I heard voices of people around me, I forgot where I was, and I felt uncomfortable, not being here, but being within the unknown. I can’t smell anything; I felt a migraine was rushing around the edges of my skull poking my eyes out. The pain was toxic; I wanted it to numb the feeling of uncertainty.
“Will he be fine nurse?” Said a familiar voice,
“Yes he will, he needs rest, we will change his cast now” said the other.
I knew the familiar voice, it was the breath of fresh absence, being in complete happiness, I smiled although it hurt, I felt a tear although I couldn’t feel my tears, I wanted to hug her but I couldn’t move. It was my mother.
“How are you feeling son?” said mother.
“I don’t feel anything now, I feel numb” I said,
“Don’t worry, you will feel better, sleep please” She said.
I knew now I left the operating room, but I just couldn’t open my eyes, I couldn’t see, I couldn’t feel, I wanted to see her, I wanted to see how I looked, but it hurt. I needed to sleep, I have to wake up from this dream, or this reality.
Several hours later, I heard the sound of another familiar person, our help, Annabel.
“Your mother wanted me to help you” She said.
“Did she leave?” I said.
“Yes, she did, she will come later, your father said he will come later too!” She said
“Ok, how do I look, I can’t open my eyes, can you call the nurse I don’t feel fine” I said
“Aren’t you feeling better? Sure, let me call her” she said
Why was this nurse taking her time to help out, I want to open my eyes, I feel they’re taped, why are they taped, were they taped? But every time I just feel my eyes while they’re closed it hurts, a pinching feeling it was.
“Yes, can I help you” the nurse said with a deep hollowed voice
“For some reason I can’t open my eyes” I said, I was concerned
“Why cant you, just open them” She said with a smirk I felt, I knew this because her voice had a more joyous rhythm to it.
“I am trying but it hurts” I said
“Don’t worry, its nothing, you can open your eyes, you will be fine just have something to eat first” she said.
The pain was unbearable, I knew something was wrong, I couldn’t see and I didn’t like this. I didn’t come here for an eye operation, I didn’t want to leave here with this pain, something is not right, something didn’t feel right. I cannot see. I am scared.
“Your lunch is here, you ordered grilled chicken with potatoes, green beans and a strawberry jello on the side” the lady said, she brought the food in with a surprising happiness to her voice. Is everyone always happy here? or maybe it was this pain killer i was taking.
“Thank you, just place it on top of the table” I said
I struggled trying to find the table, I can’t open my eyes and see so I decided to focus on my senses, which for now is limited to feeling or touch and hearing, and the image that I had of the room before the operation which helped me a lot to figure out my way around the room.
“Don’t worry I can feed you if you wanted” said Annabel
I was ashamed to ask for help, I am 27, I didn’t want to feel old, or useless, or hopeless.
My grandmother was in the same position in 2008, in the same hospital, but in a far much worse state. She was being fed, tucked in to sleep and taken to the washroom. She was and will always be the most courageous person that I have known, to see her struggle was the hardest part of my life.
At this point I remembered her, because I couldn’t see, I could only imagine, I envisioned her, her struggle, her eyes, I wanted to see her face, her smile, her laugh, everything that made me feel the opposite of how I felt at this moment, finally the thought of her she gave me courage one more time, even though she wasn’t with us anymore.
“What is this?” I said
“Chicken” said Annabel, she was surprised that I didn’t know what chicken felt or tasted. Due to my operation I still can’t taste and at this moment, see.
“Can you open your eyes, to see the food” She said
I tried to open my eyes, I saw a strong ray of light and closed my eyes suddenly. It was pain that made me chose to close my eyes, I felt as if two knifes were positioned in front of my eyes, both of the sharp edges were placed in front of my eye pupil and as I open or close my eyes it would brush the edge on it. That was the pain I felt. I wanted to scream, I wanted to tell her, I wanted to numb the pain. But I had to remain calm, I needed to forget the pain, I needed to remember my grandmother, she is my sanity.
I can’t open my eyes, the pain is just too much to bare, I don’t want to eat anymore,
“thank you, I’m done for now” I said
“I will call the nurse, I want to speak to her, why are you in pain, you didn’t come for this!” she said with some anger in her voice. That comforted me, I needed to see the nurse, I needed answers.
A door opened, and I now can hear her footsteps, it was a bit sandy and rough, she knocked on the floor which had a squeak sound when walked on probably because the marble was recently cleaned, or was it wood, it could be a sort of material that had both. She was wearing a fabric that felt heavy, I heard it, it had a certain movement to it that was recognisable.
“Yes sir you called” She said, I didn’t feel she was accepting of his call.
“Why is my eyes hurting so bad, I can’t see!” I said with some anger.
“this is normal, usually our patients who come out of this operation get this sort of pain in their eyes” She said, huffing away.
“How is this normal? How is this pain normal? It is not, I am sorry I need to see the doctor, send him over NOW! I said with more anger than before.
Implementing this sort of anger towards her numbed the pain for a certain time.
“The doctor will come at 4pm, please rest” she said
“I cant see the time, how will I know when he will be here! can you tell me in how many minutes he will be here” I said with even more anger.
“Yes sure, two hours from now” She said, I felt now she woke up from the vagueness she was in a while back
“Two hours passed, he could come any minute now” said Annabel.
I couldn’t answer, I wanted to go to the bathroom, but didn’t feel it was right to ask for help, I didn’t want to be assisted again. I remember visiting the room in the morning, I knew how big the bathroom was and where the sink was positioned, on the left, there was a bin in front and a shower area just on the side, but I didn’t know the distance from them.
“Hello Mohamed, its me, your doctor” He said, barging in the room with some people whom I assumed were his colleagues, nurses and other doctors.
“How are you feeling, nurse check his cast, and his medication, make sure everything is ok” he said.
“Doctor, I am not feeling well, my eyes hurt, I can’t open them, I can’t feel them, whats happening” I said
“Don’t worry, you will be fine, this is a usual procedure” He said
His nurse stayed around to change my cast and medication as he instructed, as she was leaning, I felt this from her weight which was slightly over my right leg, I knew there was some sort of motion happening close to my right side, she was injecting me with some more medication or as she said antibiotics, which I knew meant more pain killers, but I felt they were ignoring my concerns by giving me more pain killers when i just needed answers.
“Why did the doctor leave, I don’t feel fine, I know something is wrong, how come this is normal, I am in so much pain, please call him back!” I said with some frustration.
“Sorry I can’t, he left to see other patients, believe me you will be fine, it is normal” she said as if I was a supposed to believe in what she said, I can’t believe her, I knew something was not right.
My father walked in, at this time the television was on and I could hear the news, this was a different experience for me, hearing and not seeing, I listened to each comment made by the broadcaster at the time it was an offensive remark made my Donald trump, I got his image and I thought to myself of obvious that he would be the only one to make ridiculous remarks, but it was bound to happen if you take him seriously.
“Salam son, how are you feeling” father said as he held my hand gently and rubbed it, it gave me a sense of security.
“Not well, I can’t see, my nose is fine, but my eyes are in pain, in so much pain, I want help, I asked for the doctor but he said its fine” I said with some vulnerability.
“How come! Where is he, Annabel, call the nurse, I want to speak to her” he said with raging frustration.
At this point I heard other footsteps, much lighter, a softer step, but I knew this fabric was our traditional clothing, it was another man, so I turned my face to where I assumed the door would be and said hello.
“Salam brother” Said my elder brother.
I knew it was him, from his voice mostly.
“Salam brother, thank you for coming” I said,
“It is my pleasure” he said, then he was cut off by the nurse walking in.
“What happened, is the patient fine” she said
“He says he’s in pain, why is he in pain, why can’t he open his eyes?” father said, I felt he would easily throw her out of the window to be honest.
“Doctor said he will be fine, there is nothing to worry about for now, I told your son this, please just let him rest and let him continue to open his eyes slowly” she said and then walked closer to the door as if she wanted to run away like the kid at school who gives orders and disappears on the hope of not getting bullied later.
“Excuse me, he is still in pain, get the doctor, NOW!” He said. At this point I was even scared from my father and I know when my father can get scary, I knew how he looked like, I knew how his face changed when he was angry, now I can feel his anger.
“Surely, I will get the assistant doctor to call you now, the main doctor left” and she rushed before she could get scolded once again.
I told Annabel to help me leave the bed, I wanted to sit, I wanted to move, I didn’t want to just lay on the bed like a corpse. As I stood I felt uneasy, I felt tiny humans were dancing the fox trot in my head. I came closer to the couch, and sat there. I didn’t know if it was day or night, but I knew I was better sitting than on the bed.
“This is really bad, I hope he feels better” I heard my brother murmur this to my father, as I wouldn’t hear them, but I heard everything.
“I want to go to the bathroom, Annabel can you just guide me to the bathroom and I will take care of myself” I said, as Annabel came closer, my father tried to assist me, but I preferred she help me because I was embarrassed to let my father guide me in any case.
As I stepped in to the bathroom, I locked the door, I knew where the lock was, where the sink was so I opened the water, it was quieter inside, I needed this. I just sat inside, I wanted to remove my eye balls out, I contemplated on asking for more medication, I want to sleep forever, I didn’t want to be like this. This was unexpected, I didn’t want pain anymore. But I stood up, adjusted my cast, and removed a tear or two from my eyes and unlocked the door, as I left I heard nothing. Silence, because they were giving me space to sit on the bed, I decided to lay on the bed because it was the safest way for me to feel secured and reassured that it is just a day and will pass by.
“Sir, here is phone, the assistant doctor will speak to you” the nurse said.
My father rushed to her side, I heard his shoe heel move from the right side of the room to the left in a split second, I knew he wasn’t going to ask her nicely.
“What is wrong with my son, why is he in pain, he cannot open his eyes” He said.
I heard her murmurs because he was close to me, but I didn’t know what was she said.
“Listen, you have to do something now, I don’t want to see him complain, come immediately” He said and closed the phone, I was sure his reaction was needed at this point, but I felt all this anger passing by made my eye balls thump and hurt, i felt it was like a beating drum and the blood was pushing from one side to the other.
He gave the phone to the nurse and asked her to come back with a solution. I knew my brother was still sitting, we talked about his day and fathers, and then he decided to leave. He told me he got me flowers and I smiled, I told him thanks but I can’t smell or see them now.
The nurse came back some time later, and told my father that an eye doctor will be coming later at night to see what the nature of this problem is.
My father accepted her note and decided to leave, before he left he reassured me that everything will be fine, I just need to focus on resting and being ok.
My eyes were shut, I didn’t know if I was awake or sleeping, thinking or dreaming, I was in a consistent feeling of being lost. I wanted to open my eyes, I wanted to see how the operation went, I wanted to see the flowers, the chocolate that was gifted from my sister-in-law, the picture that mother took of me after the operation, I wanted to not miss this memory, I didn’t feel I was supposed to be this way, I hoped that doctor could apologise for this and tell me what was wrong.
The television was still on, I heard now a movie playing but didn’t know who was acting, nor did Annabel, trying to feel everything was ok, I asked her for some jello that was left from lunch, i remember it was strawberry, although i knew taste would be a mystery but i was hungry so it didn’t matter, she told me they took the tray, unfortunately.
The door opened and two people walked in. My mother and my aunt, both of them asked about how I felt and answered the same, I told them about the pain, and mother wanted to speak to them once more, but I told her not to, just for her to be with me, that was more important, I tried to change the subject, I asked them to try the chocolate, and to describe the flowers and what was on the screen. I wanted to have a conversation about something that has nothing to do with my sight, I am starting to live with this feeling of not seeing, but still hoped for some clarity in the future.
My mother came closer, held my hand, I felt her face closer to mine, she kissed my hand and forehead.
“Son, keep being strong, the doctors say it is nothing, you will be fine, be positive, and I am always here for you” she said, then she recited some verses from the Holy Quran which comforted me.
My aunt then also told me to be strong and also prayed, all will be well.
They both left.
This visit gave me comfort but also sadness, I couldn’t see her, my mother, I couldn’t see her worries, I couldn’t see her pain, I couldn’t see her recite, I couldn’t see her hands, nothing. There will not be a memory of today, not a visual one for sure, but I will remember the pain, I will remember this moment.
The door opened once again.
“Hello Mohamed, I am an assistant doctor to the ophthalmology department” she said, which basically means the eye clinic.
I was much happier with her coming in, It was night at this time.
She tried to squeeze my eyes to open them, but I couldn’t see except extreme blurriness and felt pain that is all. She told me to hold the pain in for a couple of seconds while she examines.
“Mohamed, we will just add drops to ease the pain every 2 hours until your appointment tomorrow morning” she said.
I was shocked because she basically did nothing, she didn’t even ease the pain, she didn’t even help in the pain but make it worse. Not only that I couldn’t see but every two hours I had to awake my eyes and introduce them to three kinds of drops, each more painful than the other, no matter how long i sleep, i still have to wake up, the day was getting worse by now.
“So you can’t help me, you don’t know what caused this? “ I said
“You will be fine” she said
This irritated me.
“Fine? How will I be fine, I can’t see, I am in pain and have been for many hours and everyone is insisting on me being fine, but nothing has changed” I said, and turned the other way, i didn’t know if i was should just keep my face to where she was, before i could just stare back at her to assert my decision, but i felt weaker, not knowing how she reacted or even if she did. it was confusing.
She didn’t say anything when I finished talking she just rubbed my hand and reassured me to rest.
Every two hours I was awakened by a nurse who would pull my eye lid open to put three drops, again and again I was forced to wake up when I was sleeping and when I was awake my eyes were closed, it was hard to focus on time, or existence, I didn’t know when or where or what time it was, I truthfully felt lost.
Annabel woke me up telling me it was 8am, my appointment with the ophthalmologist is at 9am, I knew this from the doctor who came yesterday and shocked me with the time wasted. I personally didn’t want to go, I was in acceptance that I may be like this for some time, I had a fear from opening my eyes now, I didn’t want the medication, I just wanted medical tapes to cover my eyes and shield me from any interaction or intrusion.
I heard three people entering asking me to get up, before that I took the clothes handed to me and stepped inside the bathroom, once again I locked the door, I started to wash my face, the water was lukewarm, it felt smooth on the sides of my face, for now due to this surgery I couldn’t wash my entire face, just the areas around the wound. I took little water and rubbed around my eyes, I wanted to open them but I knew it would’nt be easy, so I decided to retract and just change my clothes.
As I unlocked the door and stepped out, Annabel suddenly grabbed me, but at this time your brain understands what could be an obstacle and what could not, it also can give you certain warnings, so I just told her to let me be and allow me to figure out where i should go.
A man told me to sit down on the wheel chair, I didn’t even know there was a wheelchair in the room, this surprised me, I thought I knew by now who and what may come inside the room, but they most probably came in during my bathroom break.
“Do I need a wheelchair” I said
“It is much better, faster and safer” he said
As I sat and was taken out of the room, I felt the wind pass by so I knew he was moving faster to the elevator, my head was taken aback by the rush of his speed, it is better to be sitting than standing. I heard people suddenly stop talking when I would pass by, I heard some whispers of attention, like:
“Oh god, hope he is well” said one voice
“Move, let him pass” the other said
I understood some people were shocked seeing the state I was in, I felt hopeless, I didn’t know if I should smile, if I should be sad, If I should move, if I should talk to anyone, was I alone, was the nurses around, I didn’t want people to pity me, I was restricted by weakness, which is the result of pain.
I heard a door opening, which I assumed is our door, but it wasn’t, it was the next one, where was I? I asked the person taking me if we were close, I felt as if we were going on for a long time, but in true fact it was almost 5-10 min max.
I was taken inside, a heard two doctors, one was on the left and other was on the right both were talking to me, both sounded disturbing, I felt it was more of a shout then an actual conversation, I didn’t know if they were talking to themselves or to the nurses.
“Son, we will add antibiotics on your eyes to numb the pain” He said
“I don’t want to open my eyes doctor it hurts, is there any other way” I said
“Don’t worry, we will add these drops and you wont feel a thing, then we will add contacts which will act like eye bandages for 5 days until you recover” he said
I was tired, thirsty and I needed to leave back to my bed so I agreed.
As she opened my eyes I saw a quick ray of light, followed with a flow of tears as the pain increased to its maximum potential, then suddenly it stopped.
The nurse applied the antibiotic drops and added the contacts, now I feel nothing, I can see, I couldn’t believe it, I was shocked, I saw the nurse, I saw the clothes I wore, my badge, the wheel chair, the man who pushed me here, now I can make memories and those doctors were just sitting looking at me, smiling, assuring me all will be fine.
I sat waiting for an evaluation, as he examined all options, the reason to the continuous pain was both my eyes had a scratch on the cornea, which happened during my surgery, the doctor explained that this was a normal procedure in some cases, and the wounds would heal quick fast it would take a week to fully recover but needs rest, I was completely shocked by the incompetence and lack of self-awareness, why would anyone explain this me before hand. Why was I put in such oblivion to the point I was accepting this pain and the fact of being temporarily blind.
I decided to walk back to my room, I was so confused by this, I needed to speak to someone, so I called the nurse to contact the doctor but they advised me that they are not working on a Saturday (a public holiday in the UAE) the nurse just told me they weren’t sure what it could be but made sure all procedures were taken in terms of safety.
My father was waiting in my room, I saw him and quickly hugged him, I thanked him for being by my side, it is really important to have family around you, I saw my clothes and my usual lunch was back, that chicken that I couldn’t see or feel, now although I cannot taste yet, I could see, it didn’t look any better than it tasted, and the bathroom which was much bigger than I thought, or my bed, I noticed there was blood in some areas which I think was the result of my nose.
I asked the nurse to get everything set as I will be leaving today, I want to go back home and rest, I didn’t want to stay in the hospital any longer, my father and Annabel went down, I asked them to let me pack my things and wait for me downstairs. I sat in the room looking out of the window seeing the streets, the people, the hallways, the chocolates my sister-in-law got for me, the flowers my brother brought, it was a new given appreciation for life.
Although my vision was still blurry, muddy to be exact, and the progress to see better will take time and I had to also find ways to rest more, I knew now I can finally believe the undoubted fact that I will actually, probably be, fine.
Home, sweet home.