On Wednesday I went to Karen Hospital for my regular check-up. I have been going to Karen Hospital ever since I became a Kenyan for any ailment – even when mere cramps during the ‘witch’s’ visit seem to take a toll on me.
When the doctor asked me to take a seat and took aeons to get back to me, a time I was enjoying the niceties of such hospitals of prestige, I realised that something was wrong. I had a busy day ahead of me: two press conferences to attend, final editing of my article for my column in Yedioth Ahronoth Kenya and of course a luncheonette with the Prime Minister at Hotel 680.
I know that when those guys tell you to take a seat and wait on them two things can happen – all bad news: either you are infertile or had contracted HIV/Aids.
When he was through with trying my patience he came and took his religious place directly opposite me. His eyes screamed only one thing – CONcern.
“You have a complex, rare blood disorder, Upshaw-Schülman syndrome,” he told me. “A form of Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (TTP) commonly known as Moschcowitz syndrome.
“This disorder,” he went on before I could even tell him I am not Greek. “Is very, very rare. Generally, it’s due to inherited deficiency of ADAMTS13.”
I fixed my eyes on his eyes imploring him to explain.
“ADAMTS13 is an enzyme that cleaves large multimers of von Willebrand factor into smaller units. If large vWF units persist, there’s tendency for increased coagulation.”
“Just what is it you are telling me, doc?” I asked.
“Red blood cells passing microscopic clots are subjected to shear stress which damages their membranes, leading to intravascular haemolysis, reduced blood flow and cellular injury which results in organ damage.”
“How serious are we talking about?” I asked.
“Thrombocytopenia, or rather low platelet count,” the good doctor said, “Leads to bruising or purpura…”
“Doc, this ain’t a medical symposium. How serious is it?”
The doctor swallowed, nodded and gave me that look again. “Shiri, what you have is fatal.”
My heart stopped for a moment, everything in me a dry parchment. “Fatal? How fatal?”
“Ninety-seven percent fatality rate.”
The coldness he said it with made me freeze.
97% fatality rate!
“This is treatable, right?” I heard myself ask, shell shocked.
“What do you want me to tell you?” he asked.
“The TRUTH,” I quipped. “Shall set you free.”
“The truth, enhe?”
“Yeah, the TRUTH.”
“Okay, here it is. With effective prophylaxis, survival up to six months is eighty percent.”
I expected something like five years on the lower side, but months was just a slammer. Everything seemed to come to an end, theworld spinning.
“So, what does that mean?” I asked, not willing to think about what might possibly happen.
“Right now, it means you have undergo a prolonged intensive regimen of intensive treatment.”
“And that would be?”
“An exchange transfusion where patient’s blood plasma is removed and replaced with donor plasma. The procedure has to be repeated daily to eliminate the inhibitor and abate the symptoms.”
Fantastic. Compulsory vacation lazing on a hospital bed.
“Plasmapheresis may go up to eight weeks. Seldom does it take twelve weeks or several months in absence of frank myocardial infarct,stroke or CNS haemorrhage.”
Suddenly I felt the pillars that holds the world tumble down.
“We’ll have to start right away, but don’t worry much. It ain’t an emergency, but the earlier the better.”
The doctor rambled medical school jargon some, but I found myself hearing nothing of it. I am a bachelorette, I thought. I have nobody to go to, to tell. Evelyn, Gwendolyn and Wisteria feature nowhere near something this private. I am miles away from home, happy and proud to be a bachelorette, but this…
“You even listening to me?” I heard the doctor ask.
“Yeah,” I finally said snapping my mind to reality. “I am getting you loud and clear.” I said as I tried to fight a debilitating wave of daze.
Three hours later I came to in one of the hospital’s beds when I made my way to the parking lot where my latest acquisition, an imitation of a Land Cruiser Evoque, stood crisp waiting to take me home or wherever.
At home depression set in, shut myself in my sanctuary and blocked the world. I kept on wondering how this could have happened, and why me.
It’s only yesterday when I realized that crawling into a cocoon of depression and hopelessness was wasting my precious life. I decided that I am alive for a purpose, and I just can’t throw it away.
Now, I am over pumped with zeal to fight this monster that’s threatening to take my life away. I have already talked with the Managing
Director Yedioth Ahronoth Kenya. Tomorrow my sick leave commences.
And tomorrow the treatment starts.
While all this is happening, I am on vacation.
Copyright ©Elove Poetry, 2012.