25 May July 1990, A Needle to the Heart (Part 3).
“I’m sorry mom. I’m sorry.” She didn’t quite understand what I was remorseful about. I’m not sure what was going on in her mind as I poured out how much I regretted my behavior. I finally had an outburst of sincere apologies. My actions did not influence the rest of a quiet, emotionally filled day. Not better or worse than it had been by any means. However, mom smiled.
“It’s fine Ramon. You were just an innocent seven-year-old. We all make mistakes sometimes. I made a big mistake. This wouldn’t have happened if I had been more careful. I mistakenly broke the needle because I was confused. I should have been more careful.” She continued to blame herself as both of her congested corneas continue to fill with tears once again.
“I heard the doctors say the pin is near my heart, but it won’t kill me. Right, mom?”
“No, you won’t die.”
“Don’t say that again, ok?
“You will not die,” She repeated the second time in a lower tone without looking at me.
The beauty of the morning sun,
The gentle breeze found in the wilderness,
Love between father and son,
And an orison from mother to a child.
To understand spirituality,
And to be better aware of an ultimate presence,
In and around you.
A mother’s sacrifice.
Between our departure from Ikeja General Hospital and arrival at LUTH, I thought mom might have replayed the needle incident in her head several times. She wished she could delete the scene where she accidentally broke off the needle that fell into her son’s thoracic cavity. Perhaps she could pause at the scene just before she touched me, just for a moment, so she gets another chance to handle things differently.
Fortunately, we found the surgeon we were referred to. He carefully read the letter after inviting us to have a seat in his office.
“Ok Mrs. Ayoade, here’s what we’ll do. I need you to bring your son exactly a week from now. Make it 10:00 am. We will be ready for him”.
“Just like that?” mom asked, evidently still disturbed about the urgency of my predicament. She moved on to the next question without waiting for an answer to the last.
“Are you serious? He’s got a needle in his chest!”
“I understand Mrs. Ayoade! He’s also borne this needle for how many years? Three years? That’s an indication that the needle will not kill your son overnight. He will be okay. We will review his record and make plans for the surgery. We will also have to keep him here for a few weeks after the surgery, so prepare for a short stay as well.”
Soon we were out the surgeon’s door, my hand in mom’s. She continued to stare at me, silently crying, “I should have been more careful.”
“Don’t worry mom, I will be all right.”
“Doctor said I will be all right.” The ten-year-old quoted the surgeon.
I was only four
When she told me they were stars.
Up in the night sky,
They never stopped shining.
That’s where I wanted to be,
But there was no one to take me there.
For years, I watched so hard,
But I could only see my reflection,
Down at my feet.
And I still haven’t stopped.
I had the picture of a blue rose in my star,
And it makes me think of who you are.
I saw a shade of dark, long hair watching me,
And it reminded me of what your love is.
So many times I thought about my life,
And how much pain it’s caused yours.
I could live without everything else,
But not without your love mama.
It was surgery day, both of us anxiously sitting in the operating room waiting area. A nurse came over, called out my last name followed by my first and middle names. A little boy about five years old jumped off the chair and ran off to the nurse. Astonished, I turned to my mom who smiled back at me.
“Sorry dear, how old are you?” The nurse asked.
“I am five years old!” Boy replied.
“Well this patient is ten years old, so I guess it’s not your turn yet sweetie.”
A forced smile radiated briefly from the nurse towards us as mom and I got up to approach her. Apparently, we shared the same names, except that the little boy’s first name was my middle name while my first name was his middle name.
There was momentary ease in the air at the young boy’s display of enthusiasm, the tension on most patients waiting to be seen seemed to be lifted for a few minutes.
“How are you?” She asked? Without waiting for a response, she said to mom, “I’m not sure your son’s surgery will hold today anymore.”
“What? What do you mean? His surgery’s been canceled?”
Without giving the nurse a chance to explain, mom continued.
“His surgery is very urgent! The surgeon promised today!”
“The doctor will like to talk to you in his office ma’am.” A simple line that rescued the nurse from a desperate mother. She knew there was no turning back for the mother of the patient at hand. She walked away as she escorted us into the same office we visited a week before.
“Mrs. Ayoade, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is, your son can live with this needle without possible danger to his life. However, you must prevent him from strenuous activities that could potentially cause the needle to move further up towards his heart. The sad news is that LUTH is currently having the same problem Dr. Lander’s hospital has. Our most experienced cardiothoracic surgeons left the country leaving us with – I believe those not skilled enough to operate on your son including me. After a careful review of Ramon’s case, I have to be honest with you Mrs. Ayoade.” He paused for a few seconds and continued. “I prefer not to take any risk on this surgery, especially knowing your son can live with the needle without the surgery.”
“So, you mean my son will be perfectly fine with the needle inside his chest?” She seemed somewhat relieved as she sat up in her chair. However, very troubled by the fact that I could live with it.
“How is he supposed to live without doing all the things kids his age group does? Like playing football?” Mom countered out of frustration.
“Mrs. Ayoade, if you and your husband can afford surgical treatment for your son in the United Kingdom or the United States of America, I can guarantee he would get care from very well experienced cardiothoracic surgeons. Chances that your child would live a healthy life with the needle in his chest is much higher than the likelihood of a successful surgery if we went ahead with it.
Copyright © Deji Ayoade 2020