Assalamualaikum and hello passer-bys.
Yesterday I went to the hospital early, to look for patients and fill up my logbook. As I walked down the corridor, a gentleman on a wheelchair stopped me with a friendly "How are ya?". After a friendly ice-breaking exchange, he asked where I'm heading to.
"I'm going to the wards to talk to patients."
"Oh you can talk to me if you want to."
I figured, why not. So he wheeled himself into a reading room, I tagged along behind. I sat down on a chair facing him while preparing my notepad. As I looked up, I saw the most shocking view I've ever seen. His right-sided skull was missing and he has this huge dent on his head, which I didn't notice previously as it was covered by his hair.
I didn't know where to begin, for I know that is a result of a life-changing accident. How do you even start with "Sooo what brought you into hospital?" in cases like these. He started.
"I was involved in an accident two years ago, I was in a coma for 6 months."
I didn't know how to react, because I started the morning looking forward to doing my geriatric depression scale and MMSE and all that jazz on elderly stroke patients.
Now I'm talking to a 32-year-old previously healthy man, who went on a holiday, and got terribly hit by a car while cycling, and is now spending his years, wheelchair-bound, and paralysed. Let's just call him Chris.
"I'm sorry about that accident..."
"Not as sorry as I am, Ika."
The conversation moved on, he talked about college, families, and whatnot, when he suddenly said,
"I can't see you, Ika." I went blank, he can't see me the whole time we're talking??
"What do you mean you can't see, Chris?"
"I can see motions and colours but it's all too blurry..I couldn't really see your face right now."
Shoot me. I just sat there awkwardly not knowing what to say. He talked about how his friends are graduating and he missed out on his studies after the accident. Now his vision is missing too? It was really, really sad.
But he didn't sound sad. He talked casually, sometimes smiling and I was the one looking really depressed. But he can't see me and my ugly sad face.
Next year when I'm finally working (inshaAllah), I can see myself staring at patients and not knowing how to react when they cry, or when they're frustrated. I would probably make an awkward gesture which doesn't make them feel any better. I reeaally need to work on my social skills. Sobs
In the end, Chris kept saying sorry for holding me up. Before I left he said,
"I have one last question for you , Ika. Why is there no pineapple in the jungle?"
"Hmm.. that's a tough one Chris."
I couldn't figure this one out.
"Sorry Chris I really don't know. Come on what's the answer."
"I don't get it."
He came closer, and said very slowly. "Para-ce-tamol."
"I don't understand, a little help now Chris."
He finally said, "Parrots-eat-'em-all."
It's like he's the doctor cheering me up, and I'm the patient.
All the best in rehab, Chris.