Publish Novellas 22 August 2021
EPISODE 4 – ESSENCE OF LEARNING
Showing signs of rapid progress, the classroom of elementary school students is learning how to treat abdominal ailments.
More Detention, March 2010
“The gallbladder is the organ that is responsible for proper digestion and absorption of food into the body. The pancreas produces insulin, which helps regulate body sugar levels….”
To Evelyn Chambers’ delight, the lecture goes on and on, while the students sit, transfixed by all the information they’re receiving.
“I want to inform the class that we have a patient already. He has biliary obstruction that can lead to infection. His parents cannot afford the hospital bills that will be required to get him treated and time is running out.
“Right now, his growth is slow because he is barely getting any nutrients. He also has occasional abdominal pain. He vomits constantly and is weak often.
“There aren’t any signs of diabetes yet. If things continue as is, it’s just a matter of time. Based on our conversation from the other day, what treatment do you recommend?”
Her question jolts many of her students out of their trance. Hands shoot up in the air, and she is delighted to see them. It doesn’t matter if they get the answer wrong. What matters at this point is that they are invested enough to even attempt a reply.
“Peter!” she calls out at the boy on her right.
“Well, he needs surgery to fix the blockage?” To the boy who looks to be about 11, this is a very good attempt.
“Nice try, Peter. But remember, his parents cannot afford the surgery. And even if they can, there is no real guarantee that it will solve his problems!” she says.
Another hand shoots up in the air and she smiles. It is Nicole Adams, who is 12 years old—the oldest in the class and most quiet. She thinks to herself as she nods in the girl’s direction.
“I am thinking there could be a way for the boy to get rid of the blockage like kidney stones…, you know…. If there was a medication that could make the gallbladder pass the item that is causing the blockage without surgery.”
‘This girl is bright,’ Evelyn smiles while thinking to herself before replying to Chloe’s suggestion.
“A common cause of biliary obstruction is gallstones or other similar blockages. We are going to use an obscure treatment from ancient Egypt. It is also found in many parts of the Middle East, where water used to be a problem and people develop gallstones frequently.
“This treatment hasn’t been used in any kind of prescriptions for a very long time, mostly because of western advancements in medicine. The active ingredient isn’t expensive, but we do have to ask someone to send it from Egypt. And that’s what we will do,” Evelyn says.
She then walks over to Chloe and says with a reassuring smile: “I know it seems much easier for me to just get the needed items and treat him by myself, sparing you this process. But what happens the next time you need help and I’m not here?” The room falls silent as the kids nod in agreement.
“We will meet again in three days. I already placed the order. Meanwhile, you all know what this body part is….”
She doesn’t need to finish her gesture, as all the kids place their forefingers to their lips and shush together.
“Good.” She says as she puts her tablet and books together.
Cause For Alarm
Wilson begins wheezing while grasping her chest. Daniel shouts, “She can’t breathe!”
Other students ask, “Should I pull the fire alarm?” “Is it her pancreas?” “I can get the principal.” “Should I run and tell the school nurse?”
“Quiet everyone! Wilson is having an asthma attack,” as Evelyn riffles through the child’s backpack. Air passageways in her lungs are swelling. Locating a small plastic L-shaped tube, she pulls the cap off of it. Evelyn tells Wilson to inhale as she squirts a puff from albuterol atomizer into Wilson’s mouth.
“Again!” the teacher says as Wilson’s breathing returns to a normal rhythm. Evelyn then hears gasps from other students.
They marvel at the atomizer like it is a magic wand. “What is that?” “Does it cure other sicknesses?” “Where can I get one?” children ask.
Wilson has a sickness called asthma. It is a relatively common problem with the lungs. The breathing passage sometimes gets so narrow that we hear a whistling sound, called wheezing. Her doctor gave her prescription medicine to keep with her at all times.
Episodes can flare up when exposed to triggers like stress, too much exertion, or…” Wiping her finger across one of the desks, “…dust. I will speak to the janitor about more thorough cleaning of this detention room. Are you feeling okay now, Wilson?”
“Yes, Miss Chambers.”
“Take a few deep breaths,” says the teacher. After doing so, she continues, “I hear no wheezing, now. You should feel better with some fresh air outside. Everyone is dismissed to go home.”
While packing up and preparing to walk to the door, someone shouts, “Miss Chambers!”
She turns around to a familiar inquisitive child. “Yes, Nicole?”
“I was wondering if we would have to get detention every time we meet…” Nichol asks. Before Evelyn can respond, she adds. “…because, I don’t think that’s good for a school report.”
‘And they say this kid is slow!’ Evelyn thinks to herself as she puts a hand on the girl’s shoulder. “I have been thinking the same thing too, Nicole. We may need to come up with a better cover story,” she suggests as Nicole nods.
“We will talk about it in the next meeting?” Evelyn suggests.
“Okay, good night, Miss Chambers!” Nicole agrees before turning and walking away.
“Good night, Nicole!” Evelyn responds as the girl fades into the distance.
Evelyn turns to get her belongings without noticing a shadow through the obscure glass of the detention room backdoor. The shadowy figure has been there from the very first day.
Evelyn leaves with books in her arms. A minute later, the shadow shifts and disappears down the hallway too.
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