The slab moves back and forth, in a slow rhythm that comforts you. You smile despite the pain that burns through your entire back, the pain means you are not dead yet even though your head tells you the white room is a kind of heaven. You suddenly wonder if a CT scan used “harmful radiation” and if it is even necessary that you are here to do this.
You should be sitting behind your laptop in your office surrounded by windows. It’s the time of the month you replenish your supplies, you’re supposed to be writing quantities on a spreadsheet. It shouldn’t be you who’s spread on a plastic-like bench being passed through a machine. It shouldn’t be you who is checked for nerve damage by an expensive machine after the X-rays had shown a broken vertebra
You didn’t know when you left home with thoughts of pending reports on your mind that you wouldn’t get to work on your own steam, that crossing a road as you have done a hundred times will nearly take your life and leave you with bruises and a fractured L2. That it will be people who do not know your name or ethnic group that will put you in their car and take you to the hospital after the person who’s car flung you across the road disappeared like a yellow bellied coward. The good Samaritan was one of your favourite stories as a child, it’s not a story that comes to you often these days… Today, it did.
You have tried without success to remember how it happened, how you transited from crossing a road to waking up with pain in your nostrils from the water that wet your face and clothes. They were saying “general hospital” those men, as the car ate up miles and a gentle hand stroked your head. Dread filled your cells as you realise that whatever happened to you must have been grave enough for them to insist on a big hospital, so you tell them to take you to your hospital where you know you’ll see a doctor immediately you get in.
“Where are my glasses, I need them to finish my report”
“Report ke, better stay one place let’s see the extent of your injuries” the matron’s voice smothered your whining.
“We didn’t see your glasses” a nurse intoned gravely and you began to cry.
“See this one o, it’s like you’re not grateful you’re alive. Shebi you have contacts, be wearing them” matron clicked her tongue as she spoke, in that manner that always reminded you of a cobra. You try to turn to hide your face and cry some more but you are frozen by pain.
Several x-rays and injections later- the battles you fought before each injection is the stuff of legend, every one banded to accuse you of being their worst patient.
“Pharmacists never like to take drugs” a nurse quips and you could have happily removed her teeth in that instant. They give you a bed upstairs to sleep off the sedatives but you get bored and leave the room with the metal edges of your lumbar corset digging into your tender skin.
You head for the reception as your brother walks in and asks of you, his face dissolved as he sees you walk down the stairs. As you hold him and wipe the tears that come in a torrent, you realise just how lucky you were, how different the end of this story could have been.
You shudder as it hits you, eleven days before your birthday and your father’s, you could have been another slab with formalin clinging to the air and that one would have no soothing back and forth rhythm. You hold your brother again and breathe thanks to Jehovah as the pain wracks your body in burning sympathy.