Standort: / Meldung: "Hey Riem, You're Famous!"

Riem Higazi

Cultural mash-ups, political slip-ups, and other things that make me go hmmm.

22. 12. 2015 - 18:41

Hey Riem, You're Famous!

'Tis the season for cheesy cheer but here's a real-life story of an everyday miracle made possible by the extraordinary kindness of strangers.

My gynecologist looked at me over the upper rim of his glasses perched on the tip of his nose. His eyes looked a little on the concerned side of things.

"Na Riem, des muss raus. Des gefällt mir überhaupt ned."
My gynecologist has been monitoring the fibroid growths (Myome) I have on the wall of my uterus for years now but apparently one had grown quite rapidly and gotten really big and was filled with a murky kind of fluid which he didn't like the look of.

"Ein paar Tage im Spital, des holt der Dr. W. raus und es ist zu 99% gutartig und dann machens wieder Party."


I 'checked in' to the AKH at the time I was told to.
9 a.m. on the day before my surgery. It was a Sunday. I was nervous as hell. I had so many medical appointments to prepare for the surgery and it was exhausting, but what was really exhausting was the emotional turmoil.

I guess everybody handles these types of challenges differently - my way was to be totally fatalistic and just accept that I was going to die young, either because cancer was already eating me up or because I wouldn't wake up from the anaesthesia I was going to receive in order to get the operation to remove the fibroids.

I do not recommend my way.

I thought of all the things I would miss about being alive and I wept entire rivers of tears. I did all this privately, all by myself at home, because I didn't want anyone to know that I was a maniac. This type of surgery is very routine. Many many many women have it all over the world. The technology and know-how involved is tip-top and I had complete trust in my surgeon Dr. W.

I didn't just trust him, I really liked him. He has the best manners, he is a true gentleman. He was the first to show me immense kindness when he really didn't have to.

Having your private parts be the center of attention for entire teams of strangers is humiliating and yes, I know it's all medical and the private bits are part of the human body and yes I know I should get over it but that's just the way I am.

It's humiliating for me but Dr. W. always made it right by bowing in a very dignified manner when he shook my hand goodbye after each meeting we had. He never treated me like a patient or just a body part. He permitted my Deunglish and explained things in English and German and really listened to me too. He was lovely, plain and simple.
His office assistant was amazing too. I actually had fun waiting for appointments with Dr. W.

Back to the hospital....

You have to sign documents that indicate who is in charge in case you fall into a coma or are incapacitated (like, by death) before you have an operation. You are forced to think about your own death, your own post-death arrangements.
All this stuff was going through my head as I unpacked my stuff in the little locker across from my bed in my three-woman hospital room. There was only one woman occupying the room and she was really old and really chatty. She told me her entire life history over the course of the day and part of the night. The only input I had in our conversation was to say that I was really nervous about my surgery and she was quiet just long enough to blink a few times and look at me like, "So what do you want me to do about that?".
She left the hospital the morning of my surgery. Before she left, she came over to me and asked, "Can I?", and I nodded and she embraced me and gave me a single pink rose. She said she talked so much to try to get my mind off of the surgery. I burst into tears and she embraced me again and then went to sit by the window to wait for the ambulance people to pick her up and take her home.



I've changed my mind....

The nurses on the ward I was on were unbelievably patient (seems weird to use the word 'patient' here...) and would give me shots and put needles in me for infusions and they weren't just gentle, they actually showed affection with touch and humour. They were genuinely concerned with my well-being, both physically and psychologically.

The men who wheeled me around on my bed to and from the operating theater were awesome too. Smiling down at me and cracking jokes and reassuring me that everything was going to be cool.

The dude who pulled me on to this contraption that puts you on the operating table was immensely kind and spoke softly and in a reassuring tone. He must have noticed that I was at this point shivering with fear and crying silently...not like boohoo but tears were just streaming down the sides of my face and into my ears as I lay there.

Next thing I knew, there were many faces looking down at me because I was in the operating theater and things were about to really get serious.

This is when I decided I wasn't going to go through with it and that I would like to go please.

The anaesthesiologist held the mask over my nose and mouth and also stroked my cheek gently, like a good mom would. I looked into her eyes (that's all I could see since all the faces around me had medical caps and masks on) and said, "Ihr seids echt lieb." She told me to try to relax and to unclench my hands. I looked away from her and stared straight up, determined I was not going to let the sleeping medicine have an effect and clenched every muscle in my body as tight as I could. There was no way I was going to not fight this.



And then, it happened.

Suddenly I was ripped away from my determination by a new face perched right above mine. The face had twinkly young friendly eyes and the voice that belonged to the face said, "Hey Riem! You're famous!"

I looked at her and smiled a little and shook my head 'no'.
"Yes! You are! I love listening to you on FM4!"

I smiled a little bit more and said very weakly and with some disbelief, "Really?"

"Yeah really. And I especially love when you tell stories about your niece and nephew."

I could see my niece and nephew in my mind's eye and this made me smile even more broadly and I totally unclenched all my muscles.

"Riem! Tell me what their names are again?"
I beamed at her with extreme Auntie-pride and said, "Gabriel and Elena." And then, I fell into my operation sleep.

I don't know the name of the lady who saw this petrified woman (me) and went above and beyond her professional duty and used what she knew to put a patient's mind at ease. I wish I did, because I would like to thank her, because not only did she succeed, she (and all the strangers who helped me through my surgery experience) reminded this jaded journalist that human kindness is available in overabundance and the world isn't as horrible as I thought it was.

Happy holidays.