Thirteen years: A visit to the doctor

AIDS was… an illness in stages, a very long flight of steps that led assuredly to death, but whose every step represented a unique apprenticeship. It was a disease that gave death time to live and its victims time to die, time to discover time, and in the end to discover life.

~ Hervé Guibert

A visit to the doctor

Continued from… Pancakes and pain

Seeing Annie’s concerned face and light panic, Isaac assured her the cramps would be over soon. He knew he was lying. When five minutes later, he still clutched his stomach, Annie took control of the situation. She resented the fact her husband had used the car of his parents to go to his work that morning, and that she had agreed to go to Delft by public transport. The subway station was about a ten-minute walk from where they lived. The doctor’s offices were just two minutes closer.

“You have to see a doctor,” Annie said determined. Isaac knew she was right. He had to. Isaac had already recognized the pain the day before.
“Can you make an appointment for today?” Isaac asked Annie.
“I think it’s better to call an ambulance,” Annie said. Isaac was doubled over in pain.

“No. Please don’t. Just call the doctor for an appointment,” Isaac protested. His pleading tone made Annie decided to say nothing else. She made the call. All appointments for the day were taken, but when she explained Isaac’s constant unrelenting pain, the doctor’s assistant agreed to squeeze Isaac in between other appointments.

Annie ran upstairs and grabbed Isaac’s passport and wallet from his room.
“Would you be able to walk to the doctor, Isaac?” she asked, feeling terribly guilty.
“Hey, of course I will. I’m a strong boy, don’t you worry,” he laughed.
“I still think that I should call for an ambulance. This is not good,” Annie protested.
“I am not getting into an ambulance now or ever,” Isaac protested, “come on, let’s go.”

Annie helped Isaac to get in his coat. She put on her own, she hooked her arm through his and they left the house. Eight minutes later, they walked into the doctor’s waiting room.

“Wait here,” Annie said, and she walked down the corridor towards the counter of the doctor’s assistant. She rang the bell and the window opened. The lady promised again to squeeze them in. Annie reminded her it was urgent. When she returned to the waiting room, Isaac was clutching his stomach again. He was now sweating even more than earlier. Sitting next to him, Annie felt the heat he radiated. She put her hand on his forehead. Isaac was running a fever.

Thankfully, moments later, the doctor called them in. By now, Isaac shivered, both from the pain and the fever. Even before they entered the doctor’s office, Annie quickly explained the situation. The doctor directed Isaac straight through to the examination room. He didn’t follow the normal procedure where he would first listen to the patient and only then decide whether an examination was necessary.

Isaac got onto the examination table and attempted to lie on his back. He couldn’t. He rolled over on his side and pulled his knees up.

The doctor pulled his shirt up and lightly palpated the upper part of Isaac’s abdomen. Isaac almost screamed in pain. While doing the examination the doctor asked Isaac about his medical history, and if he recognized the pain. Isaac admitted the pain felt the same as when he had pancreatitis six months earlier. The doctor said nothing. He had his fingers on Isaac’s wrist.

“You need to be admitted to a hospital,” the doctor said. “It’s acute pancreatitis.”
Isaac just nodded. He knew it. The doctor looked over at Annie.
“I’m calling an ambulance. Is there a hospital you prefer?” he asked.

Without hesitation, she mentioned the name of the hospital where her grandmother had received excellent care on her deathbed three years before.

The doctor immediately made the call. Isaac was still on the examination table. He could hardly move. Annie stood next to him, rubbing his back. She felt helpless. Only minutes later the ambulance arrived. The doctor had called ahead to the hospital to warn them about the very ill patient he was sending them.

After a brief knock on the door, two ambulance attendants entered. They had a gurney with them, and walked straight through to the examination room. Professionally and swiftly they moved Isaac from the examination table to the gurney. He shivered with fever, feeling hot and cold at the same time. The blankets one of the ambulance attendants wrapped around him didn’t help him feeling warmer, but somehow he felt safe. The two attendants rolled the gurney out of the doctor’s office and towards the ambulance.

“Annie, could you please bring a pajama and toiletries to hospital?” Isaac asked with a worried expression on his face.
“Of course, dear friend, you just concentrate on getting better and I will take care of the rest. See you soon!”

Isaac smiled at her and closed his eyes. Annie ran her fingers through his hair and impulsively kissed him on his cheek just before the ambulance attendants pushed the gurney into the back of the ambulance. With tears in her eyes, Annie watched the ambulance as it drove off with wailing sirens, then she rushed back home.

The first thing that she did when she was inside the house was to call her mother. Whenever she needed support, she called her mother. Not once did she think about calling her husband. All she wanted was to hear her mother’s voice, and when she did, she started to cry. Through her sobs, she told her mom about Isaac. Grace – bless her – immediately dropped everything at work and told Annie she was on her way, and they could go to the hospital together.

After speaking to her mother, Annie called her husband. He was shocked when he heard what she had to tell. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as easy for him to leave his work. He promised to be at the hospital for visiting hours that evening.

Annie then went upstairs. She packed all Isaac’s toiletries and two pajamas. His dressing gown hung behind the door and she decided to pack that too. Just as she wanted to leave the room, she noticed the slippers under his bed. She went downstairs, got a plastic bag, went back upstairs, put the slippers in it and added it to the rest of Isaac’s stuff. She closed his bedroom door behind her, not knowing when he would sleep in this room again.

Her mother arrived soon after, and as Annie hugged her, she fought her tears.
“What about the kids, mom?” Annie asked.
“They think you and Isaac went to Delft today, don’t they?” her mother asked a question in return. Annie nodded.
“Then we’ll tell them later. There’s no need to upset them too,” her mother decided, and Annie agreed.

To be continued… Admitted to hospital

Note: This series is a rework of a self-published book (2009), rewritten for this blog, and in loving memory of a dear friend who suffered from and passed because of AIDS. Keep in mind this story happens in the late eighties and throughout the nineties. Names of characters have been changed to protect their privacy.

© Rebel’s Notes
Image from Pixabay

3 thoughts on “Thirteen years: A visit to the doctor

  1. I have tears streaming down my face as I read this, Marie. I am so sorry you and your friend endured this journey, and bless your incredibly supportive mother who dropped everything to be there for you. Hugs my beautiful friend <3

    1. My mom was the best. She has done that so many times in my life, dropped everything and just came to me. She was a huge support.

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