While Going Under
A Touching Personal Story Of Pain And Recovery
By RAMZY BAROUD
"I opened my eyes to the sound of my children, so innocently unaware of what had befallen their father: "is Daddy going to die?" asked one, in a voice engulfed with a worry that transcended her years; "no, but I think that he will have to use a wheelchair for the rest of his life," answered the other, the older of the two. In fact, I was neither dead, nor dying, however, the second possibility was not completely ruled out.
I tried to speak but couldn't. The post-opt room at the University of Washington Medical Centerl was decidedly cold. My gown provided an insignificant degree of warmth. All I could feel was the painful tubes and needles and other medical devices penetrating my veins on both sides in so painful a manner. The wound in my back was numbed by the anaesthesia. Its untold pain was yet to haunt me, though once it did, the nightmare resumed......
Just as the affect of the anaesthesia began to fade, my journey with narcotics was soon to resume. Hours and days seemed like fleeting moments, although I insisted to write my weekly article, skipping a dose of pain killers that allowed me to dictate the article on to my wife, my faithful editor for the last 13 years. As I laid on me left side, as I have for many days, I day dreamed for the simplest things: being able to walk again, to walk straight, to hold my newest child, Sammy, to play hide and seek with my children as we once did.
I also thought of the things that we take for granted. I thought of the unnecessary pain that many people are forced to endure for no fault of their own. I thought of Iraqi school kids, many of whom return from school or a trip to the market limbless, to live every remaining day of their life coping with disability. I thought of Palestinians and their seemingly endless plight, one of which the innocents always acquire the lion's share. I felt so strong a resentment of President Bush and his most recent, reckless decision to beef up the US military presence in Iraq. How many of those combatants will die? How many will they kill? How many lives will be ruined by untimely maiming of hundreds of those young men? Will the lies of defending 'our freedom and liberty' suffice before the dejected looks of one's children when they learn that Daddy will be using a wheelchair for the rest of his life? For what purpose? For what price? I thought of the numerous American families without health insurance, disowned by the same system that finds it prudent to spend over $350 billion on a few years of unnecessary wars and have the audacity to ask for more.
I thought of all of these things and more, thoughts that were always cut short when my pain killers kicked in. It took me a few days to brave my first attempt at standing up and walking. After a few disheartening failures, I finally managed to stand up, to walk straight, to the cheers of my children, and the tears of my wife, a gift of health that I shall never take for granted."