With great difficulty, I managed to reach the field hospital. At the time, it was still working. Most other hospital services were rendered out of service after being shelled. Even though I had a friend to guide me — a young person who helped people for the sake of God without awaiting gratitude — it was not easy for me to find the hospital. Without the fast cars and their horns heading to the hospital, I would not have been able to reach it, for many reasons: the streets have changed, many buildings have been lost, and the place where they chose to relocate the hospital could not have been predicted.
It had been built in a neighborhood where most of the adjacent buildings had been destroyed. The building where the hospital was housed was not meant to be a hospital — it was barely larger than a residence. It was two stories tall. One of them was used as a storm room. I knew they had been forced to choose such a place because it did not attract attention, and thus less likely to find itself under the aerial bombardments that targeted medical centers and field hospitals.
Unluckily, I entered the hospital at the same time that the ambulances arrived, carrying injured people pulled from under the rubble.
The hospital was dynamic, a busy buzzing beehive, a public market. The suffering voices of the newly injured overlapped with the moans of their families, especially the mothers. Their cries were heartbreaking.
From the first step one would take into its foyer up until its last room, no empty space would be left. Even in corridors, you would find injured people laying amid pools of their own blood, while a nurse or a volunteer would be helping them, trying to stop the bleeding until a doctor — who would be busy with another one of the injured — could come and check on them. How many fathers and mothers carried their injured children and ran here and there searching for help!
What caught my attention was the serenity of the staff, and the slowness of their movements compared with the agitation of the people, and the cries of distress of the injured people’s companions. I knew they were used to dealing with such cases, as they lived amidst it every day. Bombs and jets hit the area continuously, and injured people arrived unceasingly because most of the other field hospitals had been hit and could no longer serve the injured.
After more than two hours, I managed to meet with the doctor in charge. Despite his wide welcoming smile, he was exhausted and sweating. He apologized to me after I introduced myself and reminded him of the doctors who referred him to me.
Exhausted, he sat in a chair and wiped at the sweat on his bald head with a canvas handkerchief. His baldness spread from the middle of his head snow white beard. Yet he seemed to be hardly older than thirty.
“Sorry I was late. We had urgent operations that could not be postponed.”
“Were the results good, God willing?”
“We do the best we can, under the present circumstances. As you see, my friend, we do our duty and the rest is in God’s hands.”
“Sure. May God give you strength. No doubt that God will reward you.”
“We do not ask for rewards from anyone but God. Do you know that most of our staff members are volunteers?”
“No doubt they have previous medical experience.”
“Some of them, yes. Others, we trained them. We sometimes need double the number of the staff on hand.” He smiled and continued. “Do you know that some of the staff members have only a degree in nursing, but today their experience is equal to that of specialized doctors?”
“Because of the large number of cases they see.”
“Because we’re forced to deal with a lot of cases. Sometimes a staff member might be forced to perform a surgical procedure on someone who needs urgent help and is about to die. Mostly they’re successful. Most things learned in medical school cannot be applied here. Or, if they can, many of the injured would die in your hands.”
I remember an interesting story from the beginning of the revolution: There was a knock at my door after midnight, so I told myself ‘God save me, no doubt it is the intelligence forces’. I was surprised when two masked men pushed themselves inside before I’d invited them in. One of them said, ‘Doctor, we ask help from you and from God’. Then they removed their masks, and I recognized one of the men, as he was my patient from a nearby village. After they stammered a while, I came to understand that a brother of one of them had been injured in a demonstration, receiving more than one bullet in his side. They did not dare take him to a hospital, so they wanted me to help him at home. I carried my bag and rode on a motorbike to reach their house.”
A smile lingered for quite a while on the doctor’s face.
“Imagine that they hid him in a stable, in fear of the security force raids. They wanted me to perform an operation there. I performed neither diagnosis nor sterilization. But the operation was successful. The patient is still alive. God is the healer.”
I understood that, in this hospital, they worked in conditions similar to those in his story. When I asked him to write down what they needed, he wrote a lot of things — enough to establish a whole hospital, ranging from machines for radiology to echocardiography, to alcohol and cotton. When I went out, I looked one last time at the building, and I thought about writing in my notebook that the hospital needed another real hospital, starting from the building, to equipment, and ending with the staff.
I Was Born Twice
(Author )by Hasan Almossa
Available for free online by Google play
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