Publish Novellas 4 July 2021
EPISODE 4 – SURGERY
To support his remaining family, an unlicensed doctor has been performing menial labor. Now one member requires major surgery.
Fictional events based on actual crisis
“Tafari, here is a pager. I have one too. Tomorrow, bring Ayyana in the vicinity of the hospital. Act like you are waiting to see a patient but don’t remain in one seat too long or someone will make inquiry. Keep your heads down to avoid cameras. Do you understand?” says Bello.
“Yes, I can do that,” Tafari replies.
“When I have an ambulance available, I will page you.” Taking out a piece of paper, Bello draws a crude map. “The waiting room is here. The ambulances are here, where this
X is. Come after I page you.”
“We will be there,” says Tafari.
Just as arranged, the next day Bello pages Tafari after sanitizing an ambulance at the Italian hospital. They lead Ayyana into the back for a better pelvic examination. Bello sees much internal damage from violent penetration with sticks and stones during revolt in Tigray.
“Ayyana, my dear, this examination has brought information to light. I now know how to relieve your pains,” Bello pauses.
Ayyana sits up courageously with a slight grimace and asks him to continue.
“My dear, you are brave and have demonstrated extraordinary strength, so I know you are able to bare even this news,” Bello says softly.
“Yes, my brother, please. I can only hope I am not bringing into this world any children of the soldiers who did this to me,” Ayyana responds.
Bello breaks the news to her, “No, you are not pregnant. In fact, your prospects for childbearing are no more. We must remove your uterus.”
Ayyana cries with mixed relief and sadness. “Will you do this now, in this ambulance?”
“No, that is not possible. We require a full operating room,” says Bello. “It is a risk, but I will need to sneak you into one of the rooms after I sanitize it. There will be no anesthesiologist so we must use local anesthetic. You will feel pain.”
“I have swam across oceans and slept on the ground while enduring pain all these months. Surely, I can tolerate one surgery to end this torment,” says Ayyana.
“We should do this right away. Since you are already here, I will prepare an OR and page you. For now, you two get something to eat,” Bello advises.
Later that evening, Bello sanitizes an operating room and pages Tafari. He guides them to the room where Tafari assists with the surgery.
As they scrub in, Tafari says, “You are a very skilled surgeon who is about to risk everything for family. I understand that, but without anesthesia and the danger of exposure, do you really want to do this?”
“Tafari, I have no doubts about my ability nor yours. Ayyana is strong. The outcome without surgery is worst than the risk. If you do not wish to assist, tell me now,” Bello says sternly.
“I am with you. Ayyana will need something to bite down onto during the surgery,” recommends Tafari.
“One step ahead of you. I have a wooden spoon,” Bello replies.
During removal of her uterus, Ayyana groans and bites down on the wooden spoon while grasping the sheets on her sides. As the successful surgery concludes, a staff surgeon on schedule checks to see why it is taking so long to clean the room. Upon catching sight of an unknown masked surgeon inside, he looks for the scheduling nurse, Daniella.
After the hysterectomy, Bello tells his patient, “Ayyana, you have done well. As you can imagine, we have no recovery room for you but I have administered medication to suppress the pain. Tafari will need to keep you moving on a gurney at a slow pace so as not to attract attention. After 8 hours, he can take you home if there are no complications.
“If there is an emergency, I will text you
***688*** to exit. If Ayyana needs medical attention, you text me the same.”
When Tafari rolls her out, Bello begins cleaning the operating room again. But his subterfuge is unraveling. Nurse Daniella taps on the glass with the awaiting surgeon, motioning for him to exit.
“Who was performing surgery 30 minutes ago?” she asks.
“I am uncertain what you are asking of me,” Bello responds.
“Well, how long have you been cleaning. You began two hours ago; did you not?” asks the administrating nurse.
“I have been cleaning but I do not know all the doctors,” Bello says to be evasive.
“Get this OR cleaned up and then come see me,” says the nurse.
“Yes, ma’am,” Bello replies.
After scrubbing away any evidence of his actions, he begins walking to nurse Daniella, wondering what to say. He pages Tafari with the emergency text to get away safely. When Bello gets to the nurses’ station, she ushers him into a conference room with two other doctors and her supervisor.
“Have a seat, Bello,” the supervisor motions. “I am Sergio. We want to better understand what took place in one of our exam rooms this evening.”
“How can I help?” asks Bello with sweaty palms.
“The only doctor scheduled to perform surgery in the OR was looking through the glass while someone else was operating. This was during the same time that you were cleaning the room,” Sergio says.
“Apparently so,” Bello replies.
“Explain how this is possible,” Sergio demands.
There is a long pause as Bello looks into each face across from the conference table. Scratching his head, he tries once more to be evasive. “I did clean the room. A surgery was performed so I cleaned it again.”
Sergio becomes adamant. “Who? Who performed the surgery? Where you in there?”
Finally, Bello confesses. “I was there, yes. I am a surgeon from another country and it was necessary to help someone in need,” before lowering his head.
Everyone in the room is nearly climbing over the table to ask more questions.
“Surgeon? You? What type of surgery? Where’s the patient?” they all ask almost in unison.
Bello is silent. “You put this hospital, the patient, and yourself in grave danger. Now is not the time to keep quiet. Where is the patient?” asks Sergio.
With no response, Sergio orders security to search for a patient that may be wandering the halls in need of a recovery room.
“Without your cooperation, I have no option but to turn you over to the authorities,” Sergio says.
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