Thirteen years: Baffled Doctors

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

Baffled Doctors

Continued from… A Cyst And A Lump

Annie was happy to read Doctor Bailey had asked for the opinions of other doctors. She wondered whether something could be done about the abscess pressing against Isaac’s back and she asked as much in her reply to him. Annie wondered whether the doctors in the Netherlands had contact with Isaac’s doctor in South Africa. She didn’t think Isaac would know if this was the case.

Date: Tue, 19 Jan 1999 19:38:53

Dear Annie, Jacques and kids,

It took about an hour for the scan to be made and afterwards, I took everything back to Doctor Bailey. According to the report of the scan, the cyst might not be a cyst after all, but part of the abscess. Doctor Bailey sent me to the surgical department. The doctor examined me and he looked at the report of the scan. He said they couldn’t do an operation, because the abscess is too small. It’s about 3cm in diameter and they only operate when it’s 6cm or bigger. Nevertheless, the surgeon said he wanted two private doctors who come in once a week to examine me too. They will be at the hospital tomorrow, so I have to go back then. I hope everything will be sorted out then. That will make me very happy.

Take care.
Much love,
Just me xxxxxxx

Date: Thu, 21 Jan 1999 05:45:07

Hello dear friends,

It’s early in the morning, over here and even earlier over there. Some screaming cats in the neighborhood had woken me up.

I went to see the specialists yesterday. There were seven doctors around me. Not one of them knew exactly what is wrong with me! They all ignored the pain in my legs. I have to go back to see the specialists in two weeks. In the meantime, I have to go for a barium enema. How nasty. I do not look forward to it at all. On Sunday, I have to start with the preparations for the enema. I have to take some kind of medicine that to prepare myself for the procedure.

I think I will go back to bed. Maybe I’ll fall asleep again.

Much love,

Annie was outraged after she had read Isaac’s e-mail. She couldn’t understand how so many doctors didn’t know what was going on with her friend. Moreover, how could they ignore the pain in his legs? She wondered whether some deformity in Isaac’s back might cause the pain in his legs. Annie didn’t know what a barium enema was, so she searched for information on the internet. She learnt that the procedure was used to examine and diagnose problems with the colon. The barium was the contrast medium used in this procedure.

Date: Sat, 23 Jan 1999 17:00:14

Hello dear friends,

It’s very hot over here. I have just taken a lukewarm shower and am now sitting here stripped to the waist. With this beautiful thin body, I would even dare to open the front door if someone would knock now. In the past, I would never have done it. I have even tanned in my front garden and my legs and chest have a nice color. So, if I have to undress for the doctors again, I won’t have such a white body anymore.

I am better, but it’s not yet as it should be. I am not looking forward to tomorrow, when I will be on the toilet most of the day. My intestines apparently must be entirely clean before they start the barium enema on Monday. Eating and drinking is okay. I eat just about everything and when it makes me feel uncomfortable, I know I shouldn’t eat it again.

I’m joining Billy and Charlotte this evening for a barbecue at the house of Charlotte’s brother. I look forward to a nice piece of barbecued mutton. Billy said that he was going to wear shorts, but I think I’ll just put on some jeans.

I will write again tomorrow.

Much love,

The next day, Annie received another e-mail from Isaac, before she could reply to his last one. He told her he had eaten too much of the barbecued mutton, but he took comfort in the fact everything would come out with the laxatives he had to use as a preparation for the barium enema. He also mentioned he felt better, even though he still felt the pain.

Before she went to work on Monday morning, Annie wrote Isaac an e-mail to wish him luck with the upcoming experience of the barium enema. It was only the next evening that they heard from Isaac again.

Date: Tue, 26 Jan 1999 19:19:38

Hello all of you,

I didn’t write yesterday as I had a terrible experience. I didn’t even sleep in my own bed. First, the barium enema was an unpleasant experience. I was naked and had to put on a white coat, which was closed at the back. They barked orders at me — then I had to turn on my one side, then on the other, then on my back and then on my stomach. All the time I tried to keep myself covered. The worse thing was the tube in my rectum through which they pumped fluid and air into me. It’s terrible when you have to turn and all the tubes have to move with you. To think I enjoyed the real thing!

Doctor Bailey called to get the results. She only got a partial report. There is some deformity, but apparently, I shouldn’t be concerned. That’s what I thought. Today she called me again. She shared nothing on the phone, but said she and doctor Seymour wanted to do one more test — a colonoscopy. They are going to put a tube in me again! She will let me know when she wants to do it. I just hope that all these tests will lead to something.

When I got home yesterday, Billy called me. He asked me if I would get his daughter from school. Billy was very drunk — he drank an entire bottle of booze during the day. I have never seen him so drunk. Charlotte is in Durban, and she will only be home tomorrow. I stayed over at their place last night. I don’t think they should go on like this. I have more reason to be depressed. Billy has a lovely wife and daughter and he is healthy. Oh well, I guess everyone has his own troubles.

There’s not much news over here. I am just taking it calmly.

Words can’t express how much I miss you all.

Lots of love
Just me

To be continued… Back To Work Again

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

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