Sunday, May 17, 2009

The second Palestine Festival of Literature

From 23-28 May 2009 across the Palestinian territories 17 internationally acclaimed authors, editors and publishing heavyweights will travel daily from checkpoint to checkpoint - from Jerusalem to Ramallah to Jenin to Birzeit to Bethlehem to al-Khalil/Hebron - to bring the Palestine Festival of Literature to the people of Palestine.

Click here to visit the PALFEST site.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Cardiac Ward - Room 232

Needless to say, it was a huge relief when my hubby was moved from the ICU to a regular room in the cardiac ward since it is a sign that he is out of danger. But I was unhappy when I discovered that he will be sharing a room with another patient. My OCD took over, and I was very uncomfortable since he will also have to share the bathroom with his roommate. Hubby, who manages to stay in a good mood even when stressed, did not mind it at all. He actually prefers being in a double room since he loves having company.

His roommate turned out to be a very old chap, who had just undergone a heart catheter procedure. Despite the fact that by the time I left around 9pm, his roommate was still sedated, and barely moved or spoke, I had no doubt what so ever, that something interesting will happen overnight (the adventure of the ICU was still fresh in my mind), and could not wait to see hubby the next morning to hear all about it.

As expected, at around 2am, hubby woke up by the weak voice of his roommate calling the nurse. Since he knew that no one outside the room will be able to hear him, hubby told his roomie to press the red button next to him to call the nurse. When the poor - half sedated half deaf - guy did not respond, hubby pressed the button on his bed. A Filipina nurse, who looked kind and helpful came to the room.

In broken Arabic she asked roomie: "Aish fi baba??"
Baba :"fi dem!! fi wayed dem!!"
Nurse: " Ma fi mafhoum baba. Aish fi?? Fi alam?"
Baba :"fi dem!! fi waged dem!!"
Hubby:"I think his hearing is weak, so you better raise your voice."
Baba: "Ma fi alam. Agoulek fi dem. Wayed dem fi sareer!! "
Hubby: "Dem means blood. He is trying to tell you that there is blood in his bed. "
The alarmed nurse, turned on the light and rushed back to the bed. When she could not see any blood in the bed, she relaxed, and with a big smile on her pretty face said: "INTA MA FI 3ANDAK DEM BABA. AISH FI MOUSHKILA?"
Baba : "Aish tegouli inti!! Ana ma 3andi dem?????"
Hubby who was extremely enjoying this encounter, but did not want things to escalate much further said: "Yabouya hiya b te2oulak ino mafeesh dem fi el sereer."
Baba deciding to use the little English he knows: "Kaif ma fi dem? fi wayed WATER fi el sareer."
Baba: "Aish tegouli inti? Ana reyal shaiba fi 3omr abouki. Ana abgha waladi ..."
Hubby sensing that this enjoyable lost in translation transaction can turn ugly told Baba:"Yabouya hedi nafsak. Heya mish fahma 3alaik."
And he quickly turned to the nurse saying:"I think you'd better get an Arabic-speaking nurse, and preferably a male nurse, to come take care of this patient, cause he is getting angry and agitated by this miscommunication."

Unfortunately, the Arab male nurse was able to peacefully sort things out with Baba, so there are no more interesting dialogues to report. Fortunately for the nurse, by the time his son came to see him the following morning, Baba had forgotten the "MA FI 3ANDAK DEM" encounter.

See you in room 233.

p.s. Dedicated to Noran, who seems to enjoy the "Only with Nahoul & Family!!" weird posts.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Room 224

After his first cardioversion in the ER, my husband was admitted to the ICU for observation. All ten rooms in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit are single-patient rooms, and are equipped, with medical devices of every shape, size, and color. Observing nurses and doctors working in the other rooms, I never saw any of them use anything other than a stethoscope, thermometer, blood pressure and pulse monitor, and the IV drip.

Behind each bed are three outlets. The first outlet is green, and is definitely for Oxygen since the nurses have repeatedly connected it to a mask and placed it over my husband's face to help him breath easier. I heard rumors that pure oxygen has an age reversing effect, so when the nurses leave the room, I always ask hubby to lend me the oxygen mask for a while. But he never does.

The other two outlets, are blue and orange, and I never ever saw them used. So to avoid spending my time by my husband's bed, while he was resting or sleeping, worrying, and thus increasing my anxiety and gloomy mood, I decided to spend the time in trying to figure out what those two outlets are for. I finally came up with a couple of reasonable theories.

I believe the blue outlet is for laughing gas, which is known to have anesthetic and analgesic effects that must be useful in the ICU. Had I been in charge of the ICU, I would use it on all patients, even if they didn't need any sedation, so they can benefit from the healing effect of laughing. I would even recommend using it on the visiting family members, doctors, nurses, and janitors, just to improve the mood of everyone in the ICU.

As for the orange outlet, I think it is for mustard gas (thus the color). I know that mustard gas is a lethal poisonous gas that is supposed to be banned as a chemical weapon, but may be Dr. Kevorkian was consulted, and recommended adding this outlet just in case. Thank goodness, I've never seen this outlet used in any room.

Being in a single room and especially in the ICU where all the patients are tied to 37 tubes and wires, I never expected that my husband will have interesting stories to tell me when I went to visit him the next morning, but of course he did.

Patients in the ICU never get any continues sleep since nurses come in every couple of hours to check their vital signs, and between those visits, janitors come in to empty the trash baskets, clean the bathrooms, or sweep the floors. So when my husband heard someone in his room at midnight, he was not startled and slowly opened his eyes.

He was not prepared for what he saw. A guy in his late twenties, wearing a thoab that was raised to his waist was walking towards his bed. He stood still when he heard my husband, who by now was surprised, alarmed, and scared, ask: "Who are you??? And what are you doing here??"
Stranger: "Don't worry. Go back to sleep. I am here visiting my father."
Hubby: "But it is way past visiting hours and you should not be in the ICU at this time!!"
Stranger: "Well my father was just admitted a short while ago in the room next to yours, and I will be leaving soon any ways."
Hubby: "But what are you doing in MY room??"
Stranger: "Well, I just need to use your toilet. I will be out in a minute."
Hubby: "Wait here! Where do you think you're going? Why don't you use the visitors toilets outside or the toilet in your dad's room."
Stranger: "I am not sure where the visitors toilets are, and my brother is in my dad's toilet."
Hubby: "So? How long does your brother take to pee? I am sure if you go back to your dad's room now he will be done. So please leave my room immediately, otherwise I will call the nurses and have them deal with you."
Stranger: "OK, OK I'm leaving."
And as he was leaving the room he added: "I don't understand why make such a big fuss I was not stealing anything from your room you know. Actually, was going to add to it!! Ha Ha!!"

See you in room 232.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Looks could be deceiving. My acquaintances might believe (at least I think they do) that I am opinionated, independent, stubborn, obsessive, and tough. BUT, people who REALLY know me, realize that I am actually opinionated, independent, stubborn, obsessive, but not as tough as I look.

Deep down inside, I am a hopeless softy. I am actually very sensitive (حساسة) , despite the impression given by my posts that I am shenshitive (حشاشة) - sorry but this extremely old joke will only be appreciated (I hope) by Arabic speakers.

These past six weeks or so, have really been nerve wrecking. My husband has been to the Emergency Room and in the Intensive Care Unit as frequent as I wash my hands each day, my hubby & I fight each week, or even my mom calls - long distance - as soon as she suspects that one of us is not well. In other words A LOT!!

Although I am not a big fan of medical shows - cause I faint at the sight of blood - I did not mind , even enjoyed, watching patients being zapped with an electric shock to bring them back to life. I though it was cool hearing the doctor go: "CHARGE. ALL CLEAR. ZAP", and then seeing the lifeless electrocuted patient hitting the ceiling of the OR and then falling back into his bed alive.

In real life, and when I received a call at work from an ER nurse telling me not to panic but to come immediately to the ER to sign a consent giving the doctors permission to Cardiovert my husband, I immediately panicked, although I had no idea what the heck she was talking about. During my 10 minutes run from my office to the ER, the tough Nahoul disappeared, and the fragile person inside me, that one I usually manage to hide, took over.

Although my husband has been admitted to the ER several times in the past years, but seeing him there with wires connected to his arms, legs, and body, and the alarms on the monitor flashing and beeping like crazy immediately pushed the hand of the panic sensor in my head to the extreme panic zone. Before I could talk to him, the cardiologist walked in the cubical, told me that he could not wait for me so he already got the consent from my husband, (not sure how cause he was in no condition to sign his name, even if he was told that the consent was actually his marriage contract to Haifaa Wahbi) and asked me to wait behind the curtains cause he was going to do Cardioversion, which is administering an electric shock to his heart, because it was beating at the Speedy Gonzales rate of over 150 beats per minute, which is dangerous to his life!!!

I have no idea what sort of an expression was on my face at that particular moment, but it must have not been a smart one cause without me asking him to elaborate he added that it was like when a computer freezes because it is busy looping in an endless process, sometimes the only solution is to turn it off, then turn it back on again. He added that the shock will stop the heart, and when the heart automatically restarts, hopefully it will start beating at a normal heart rate. This I could understand. My only worry was the heart not responding to the treatment and its rate not going back to normal which is extremely dangerous to my husband,'s life considering his heart condition.

I am grateful that at the time (not sure due to the shock I was in, because of my strong faith in God, or because I am actually not that smart) I never contemplated the fact that there must be a small chance that (God forbid) the heart would not restart, thus the consent. Needless to say, hearing the doctor say "CHARGE. ALL CLEAR. ZAP", then hearing him add: "Normal sinus rhythm" after the first try was music to my ears. Thank God. I am truly grateful. Hubby was monitored in the ICU for a couple of days, and then released to go rest at home. I tried to be strong and supportive to him, but instead I was extremely anxious and must have added to his worries. Tough Nahoul my foot!!!

Not to be any less dramatic than ER or Gray's Anatomy, two weeks later, and after going back to work, he was admitted again to the ICU with the same problem and some additional complcations. After two more weeks of scare, frustration, panic, and contradicting doctors' opinions, he had to go through another Cardioversion (again I was standing steps away and could hear everything going on). This one too was successful, al hamd l Allah, and he is back to normal sinus rhythm.

I am happy to report, especially to my kids, that my husband is currently stable and that he is resting at home. He must have been really scared this time cause for the first time in his life he is actually taking it easy, and is following doctors' orders (touch wood, rock, & fiber glass).

As you must have guessed, he did have numerous adventures with fellow patients during his multiple stays, but I will tell you all about those adventures in another post.

p.s. To all those who provided their support and good wishes in the past difficult weeks, we both thank you from the bottom of our hearts.