“It’s just a muscular cramp,” said the general practitioner, dismissing my pain. His clinic was a public bomb shelter in one, and I limped out of it with some muscle relaxing painkillers.
I tried to attend school the next day, but was in so much pain that I turned around and took the bus home. I sat at McDonald’s nearby, sipping lemonade while waiting to go back at a decent after-school hour. I was afraid that my mother would be angry if she knew I had ‘played truant’ again; my attendance score wasn’t exactly stellar.
I had been sleeping for days in an upright position, as lying flat had become impossible. I reached my limit that night however, as I gasped for straws of air like a fish out of water. My mother rushed me to the hospital in a panic, where the doctor injected a tube of painkillers after running some tests. I remember asking for more, with him sitting beside me in the quiet darkness. He said in a gentle tone, “It’s really painful, huh.”
It must have been one of the worst nights of my mother’s life. My father was in the middle of a meeting on the opposite end of the world, while my sister was at the police station for some minor offense teenagers make. She said to me, “don’t worry, everything is going to be okay.”
It’s funny how I often hear this line recited in hospital scenes on TV, and immediately knew that something was wrong. Yet when it occurred in real life, I sucked it up as truth without question. What I didn’t know was that the doctor had taken her aside in private. He had told her that if I didn’t make it through the night, I was probably going to die.