Saturday, April 23, 2005

One hundred and seventy dinars to be buried alive!

Well I always thought that I was a tough old bird!!! Life certainly hasn't been a bed of roses and I always thought that now I have reached the grand old age of half a century (not as anyone believes I'm that old - gosh it does sound rather ancient come to think of it) I would be prepared for anything life could throw at me. Well how wrong I was and what a coward I was over such a little thing.

After being given the bad news that I had a prolapsed disk in the cervical area of my spine I was asked to do an M.R.I. Shopping around as women do for the cheapest best place (and believe me there is a vast range of prices, the Swiss Libyan Clinic charging more than a junior house doctors salary) I chose wisely as I thought Mukhtar Clinic being with in walking distance to my beloved school and having 'wasta' (Arabic expression meaning special inside help).

I informed my class (IELTS 1 foundation) that I needed to leave 15 minutes early as I had an appointment for an M.R.I. Of course my loving caring doctors, who I was teaching asked if I would be OK. Why wouldn't I? It was an x-ray and I've had quite a few of them during my lifetime I can tell you. "We'll come with you", they offered. "What on earth for?", I said. "You'll need sedating", they said. "Rubbish!" was my reply. But little did I know I was going to be buried alive.

Off I went along with my cort├Ęge (husband & son). Now as educated as I am I just assumed you passed slowly through the tube, the whole process taking no more than a few seconds. Little did I know!
The technician at Mukhtar Clinic was very nice. V.I.P. treatment for Mrs Alea the famous EFL teacher. Being a good patient, I had previously removed all my jewelry (which was just the bare essentials) and unpinned my fair locks. NO METAL the doctor said.

I entered the 'tomb of death'. "You will be alright" the technician said. Why was everyone asking if I would be OK? Of course I would be. I lay down, had my head fixed in a cage and was off for a quick ride on the ghost train - or so I thought. Nobody had informed me how long this thing would actually take so I was surprised when I stopped inside this tube. Don't move at all, not even blink, I had been informed. If I did everything would be ruined and I would have wasted the price of a 3 month English course at Yethreb. I waited. Then the clicking and humming started. Lie still, lie still, but I was getting short of breath. I was finding it difficult to lie flat on my back. How much longer, perhaps they had forgotten me. But surely my husband wouldn't leave without me, would he. . !? My mind was playing tricks. The bright light overhead was hurting my eyes. A tear trickled out of the corner of my eye. I couldn't wipe it. I closed my eyes but it didn't help. I could feel my heart pounding. I began sweating. Why didn't someone speak to me? Even some soft background music might have relaxed me. I was in an illuminated coffin.

I was beginning to get more and more claustrophobic and that's when I remembered my watch. NO METAL the technician had said. I knew I was going into a panic attack. Why didn't anyone speak to me, reassure me, tell me how much longer? I knew I was going to die.

So I yelled "Help. . . Help . . . Help!"

Nothing. But the bond between mother and child is strong - Younis my son heard me (notice not my husband!) "That's mum." he informed his Dad. "Don't be silly." was my husband's reply. "Listen! It's her!" said Younis. Abduz jumped up. The thought of losing my salary had kick started him into stopping my torture, but just before he spoke to the technician Younis stopped him. "She'll have wasted her money if you stop the x-ray now." So they sat down again.

I went through hell in that tube. I met death face on and it was only the wise words of Dr. Ahmed Carra who told me whenever you panic take deep breaths. That stopped my lovely English heart from giving up. I don't know how long I was motionless in that tube, but it was a long scary time. My knees were like jelly, my blood pressure was sky-high and I needed oxygen, but I'd have preferred the kiss of life. I just wish somebody had told me what to expect so I would have been prepared and not made such a fool of myself.

Final words from my son - "Why did you shout for help? You should have said your Muslim vows and died a true Muslim." As for me, please, please make sure I am truly dead before you put me in my coffin.

Doctors please take the time to explain to patients what will happen to them. It might just prevent a heart attack! And a microphone would help so somebody could talk you through the nightmare.
Mrs Alea


Mrs Khadija said...

Oh dear! If I knew it was going to be so difficult for you I would have gone with you to hold your hand. But you have survived and I want to thank you for this wonderful story because we can all learn something from it.

Fatimaslibya said...

How long did the whole process take? That info might have helped you and others that might have to go through this process. Sorry you had to go through that.

Hosam said...

And I thougt taking an injection shot was horrible!, after what I read it looks to me that taking those shots are just like a walk in a park.I hope that you dont live the same situation again.

abdullatif said...

mrs alea...
after reading ur story i got very curious to know what happened with the watch...and about the picture is that really u and do we really have such advanced technology.

Highlander said...

Mrs. Alea, I've been through the same process exactly but not in Libya, it was more than 45 minutes because they suspected a tumour in the brain. I went alone, and by the end of it i was saying my two muslim vows. and was freezing to death. though the doctor and technician did talk via a microphone but only to tell me not to move and they still needed me there . I will never forget that pounding felt like nails on a coffin and soil thrown at it... never again I'd rather the tumour! Hamdula you survived :)

Aileen said...

So sorry you had such a bad time. I hope all the doctors read your comments (In fact I think I might send aa e-mail to every doctors computer I can find!) I am sure you will bounce back as usual ( although maybe not so far at your age!!!!!! Sorry!!!!!!)