In sickness and in health

  • 10 Mar - 16 Mar, 2018
  • Ayesha Adil
  • Fiction

I had been feeling low since a few days. I was feverish accompanied with extreme fatigue and a sense of malaise. Fawad had been after me to see a doctor but I kept putting it off because quite frankly, I wasn’t keen on ever going to one.

“Doctors never understand my problems and I only get worse.” I said as he asked me for the 100th time to see one.

The next few days were difficult. Getting out of bed and going to work just seemed like a pain. And I only kept feeling worse.

“That’s it Saima! I am taking an appointment for you to visit the doctor today. I’m going to come home after lunch. You stay at home and rest. No need to go to work or exert yourself. I don’t understand why you’re so careless with your own health. You need to be more careful.”

“Fawad, it’s only a seasonal thing I’m sure. It’s been busy at work and I am just stressed out and nothing else. Besides, nearly every kid at school is sick and I must have contracted this from them. We all work at close proximity. Occupational hazard. That’s all.”

“Saima! Don’t argue with me. I am taking you to see a doctor. Don’t try and solve all the worries of the world yourself. Gosh, you’re worse than a small kid.”

With that he took his stuff and stormed out of the front door before I could protest.

Men! Always boss women around. I knew I would be right about my illness then Fawad will know who’s the boss. He was simply wasting his time and energy with all this. Doctors never made me better.

I was gloating slightly thinking about this. It even made me feel slightly better. I felt the little child in me smile. We never really grow up, do we?

I dragged myself around the house managing my chores.

By noon, I was glad that Fawad had taken that appointment after all. Staying home made me worse if not better. My mind kept on thinking of worst case scenarios. Maybe it’s more than the flu. Maybe it’s a deadly disease. What about work? What about exam schedules? How many days would I have to take off if I need to recuperate at home?

My mind was abuzz with lingering thoughts that I could not hear Fawad coming in.

“Hello! How are you feeling now?” He asked cheerfully as he walked into the room.

I was slumped in bed, the covers around my chin. I basically looked like a forlorn, helpless person.

I could tell Fawad was not happy to see me like this but he was keeping up his spirits for my sake.

“Have you eaten Saima?”

I grunted something unintelligible.

“How will you even begin to feel better if you don’t eat? You need your strength.”

He was getting irritable and testy with me. But I knew it was for my own good.

“Now get up and get ready. Eat something first. We have enough time. Your appointment is at three o’clock.”

With that he walked off like a man with a purpose.

I took my sweet time to get prepared. I wasn’t looking forward to this at all. But the more I evaded it something inside me kept asking me to have a health professional’s intervention. This would not go away on its own.

Fawad laid out lunch for me and went about his business while I ate.

I could only manage a few mouthfuls and quickly hid the evidence before he could see that I had practically nothing. I couldn’t stomach anything and if I forced myself then I would just be worse.

The nausea was worse in the morning and there was a complete loss of appetite too. Good luck to the doctor figuring this one out I thought.

“I’m done. Let’s go,” I called out.

We left and were at the doctor’s waiting room in about 45 minutes. The traffic was terrible.

“That ride would make anyone sick,” observed Fawad.

“How are you holding up?” He asked.

I smiled back encouragingly. More than feeling unwell, it was the dread and fear of something wrong that kept me worried. I was scared of a long and painful treatment plus I was afraid I would have to take off days from school.

After the preliminary blood pressure and weight check, I was ushered into the doctor’s office.

He sat there with a welcoming smile. Even though he was our family doctor I didn’t really warm up meeting him. He didn’t particularly jump out as my favorite person.

“He will make you well, Saima. Be polite.” Fawad whispered in my ear.

“God will make me well. He’s only the medium.” I had to whisper back.

I did, however, note that if I didn’t cooperate, he could make me worse.

“The hippocratic oath should take care of that one.” I said under my breath.

After the hi, hello and how’s the family etc, my ever-so-popular family doctor began his examination.

He asked me a couple of questions and started to jot down a few tests.

“We need to get some blood work done. It’s just to rule out some suspicions that I have.”

“That sounds serious, doctor. What is wrong with her?” Fawad could not hide his worry.

“It’s nothing really. Just the regular tests that I would recommend. Saima has always been a healthy person. Don’t worry. We will have the results in a few days and we’ll fix her.” He said with the air of a kind monarch who would probably send his subjects to the guillotine with a smile and a wave of his arm.

It wasn’t that I didn’t have faith. Now I simply started to panic. I was sure there was something seriously wrong with me because the doctor was buying time. These tests were just an excuse. He had some profound suspicions and now he was playing the safe card. I wasn’t a person anymore. I was a test subject in this medical research.

We went to the laboratory and got done with the painful part of the initial procedures.

I felt weak and wanted to go home and lie in bed.

Fawad however wanted me to eat and took me to the hospital cafeteria.

I took a small portion of their soup. Fawad felt he had to be empathetic and ordered a sandwich.

“You know you can have a proper dinner. I won’t mind, as I have no appetite.”

“I’m okay, Saima.”

He couldn’t hide his concern. We ate in silence and left in pretty much the same way.

The blood reports were due the next day. Considering my state of weakness and lethargy the doctor suggested I stay home and Fawad would collect my reports. He would follow up on treatment and medication.

The next day came. Fawad was planning to leave office around five and meet with the doctor after collecting my reports. I spent most of the day sleeping. That was another pronounced symptom of this mystery disease. I was extremely sleepy.

Around six I received a call from Fawad.

My heart skipped a beat. How sick was I that he didn’t wait to get home?

I almost didn’t want to take the call, but I had to answer it.

“Hello,” I said timidly.

“Saima!?” Fawad sounded a mixture of tense and excited. I was confused.

“Yes dear, it’s me.”

“The doctor says that all your reports are fine. In fact, except for a little anaemia, there’s nothing wrong with you.”

“Then why I am feeling so terrible?” I knew my family physician had grown too old for all this. He had lost it. I was right from the very beginning!

Strangely elated and immensely relieved, I continued, “Now what do I do?”

“He’s referring us to another doctor, a specialist.”

There it comes, what I was dreading all along. I was very sick and everyone was keeping it from me. Et Tu, Brute I thought to myself. Fawad and the doctor were in on it together.

“Please tell me what’s wrong with me Fawad. I can’t take this anymore.”

“I told you Saima, there’s nothing wrong with you! Dr. Khan has referred us to a gynaecologist. We’re pregnant!”

With those words the line got cut and planet earth stopped spinning on its axis and around the orbit of the solar system. My heart skipped various beats and I started crying. But these were tears of joy.

I really can’t be clear on what happened after that. Fawad came home and we both wept together. We had waited so long and had prayed so hard for this day to come.

In the initial years, we told friends and relatives that we were waiting to start a family. This, of course, wasn’t true at all. We wanted a family as soon as the honeymoon was over. We wanted the pitter patter of small feet, tiny versions of Saimas and Fawads running around the house.

We were happily married and we wanted to share our happiness and our joy with our baby.

But that didn’t happen. And it didn’t happen for many, many years to come.

The pressure from family became intolerable to the point where we thought of adopting. I still wanted to adopt when we received this news.

A part of me ached because I had taken so long. There was a child out there who needed my love. I will adopt one day I resolved.

But at this moment my own child needed me.

I wiped away my tears as Fawad dialled my mom and dad to share the great news with them. He began to cry while telling them all over again and so did I. Then he called his parents. We all kind of had a communal crying session before any of us could actually get any words out.

After that, Fawad and I felt sleepy. All that excitement and weeping had sapped the energy out of us. We basically called it a day and slept. Tomorrow is another day I thought. There is so much planning to do.

I was super excited. I was snoring in no time, no wait, I was sleeping like a baby in no time.

Even the feeling of motherhood and fatherhood transforms a person overnight.

The next morning just felt different. Being adults for a while now we were already pretty responsible but we suddenly felt a shade more responsible; I know it sounds strange but it actually felt like that.

“How are you today?”

“I’m perfect Fawad. How are you?”

We kept on like this for the next few weeks. We were extremely happy.

I found the perfect doctor to get me through this important period of my life. She was a huge blessing. Now I understood the importance of the right doctor in one’s life.

Every morning was new to me. Some days were better than others but for me even the bad days were great. I would suffer anything for this pretty bundle of joy to come into our lives.

Fawad and I even started discussing possible names and started to shop for the baby. Our elders told us to wait and not to take it so fast, as well as stressed upon me to rest. But this joy consumed us. We were going to enjoy every moment of parenthood because we had waited so long for this and didn’t want to miss anything out. “And we won’t Saima.”

“Yes, we won’t.”

We both smiled like we had never smiled before. •