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The extent of a person’s ability to delude oneself about one’s mortality, even with indisputable evidence of its reality, is epic. Facing the fact and accepting it are quite traumatic, and the reaction phenomenally diverse. Initial reaction is denial, despite irrefutable evidence to the contrary, we still think we shall live forever. Even though we sometimes give lip service to the fact of our mortality, we still, except in very rare cases, refuse to accept it for the fact it is.
A few years after recovering from my car accident, which incidentally could have very easily been fatal, I had another wake-up call about my mortality. Ever since the accident I have been taking for granted the fairly continuous pains I had been getting on my right side, as a reminder of my accident. My right arm, to this day, still gives me pain in inclement weather, and when I am tired I still cannot use it properly, it just hurts. The same was the case of my right side where my ribs had been broken. I lived with it. You’d be surprised how much the mind can adapt.
A few years after recovering from the accident, in summer, my Mother and I went for a couple of weeks’ vacation to the North Coast where we have a small chalet.
I was still working at the time, hence the two week vacation. As usual, I drove down there. At that time my Mother was still well and we did not need help. So it was just the two of us and our little dog. All was going well, except that the bulk of the move was my responsibility. The packing of the car with all our stuff, ensuring that the car was in perfect condition, driving down to the coast opening the chalet, unpacking the car, finding people to clean the chalet after being closed for the full year since the previous summer’s vacation, and finally settling in. That day of the move was usually a very hectic, exhausting day, but being young and in fairly good health, I took it in stride and looked forward to relaxing for a couple of weeks.
It therefore came as no surprise to me, the following day, that I had this continuous, nagging pain in my right side where my broken ribs were. I just took it easy and hoped for it to subside, as it usually did. But as the day progressed, so did the pain. I thought I had pulled a muscle, along with the usual pain, so said nothing about it, took a mild pain killer and just lazed about.
The third day the pain was still there, getting even sharper. I was starting to get worried. I have a very good friend in one of my neighbors there, she has the chalet right next to mine. We always used to go swimming and walking together, even meet up whenever we could, back in Cairo. So I called her and told her I wasn’t feeling very well, but was hoping things would get better when the pain killer takes effect. By early evening I was feeling much worse.
There was a unit of four chalets in front of ours, where four doctors had their summer houses. By six in the evening I was in such pain, I asked her to have one of them to come and give me a strong shot of a pain killer. The pain felt like a vice around my waist. It was never like this before. The doctor came and asked if I had a history of gall bladder attacks! Gall bladder?! Absolutely not. I never had any problems with my gall bladder. He said that was what it looked like to him.
Realizing that this could turn serious, and that I needed help. I called my brother and explained the case. By that time it was around 11 in the evening, and I asked him to come and fetch us the next morning, to book a hospital bed at my favorite hospital and to take me there directly. That night, and till my brother arrived the next morning, was endless.
To be continued …