By Dr. Kofi Dankyi Beeko – MD
Back to my patient, the family was eager, and so was the state, to send the teenage boy to Britain for Craniotomy. Craniotomy is the opening of the cranial cavity, in this case, to open the hind-cranium – the back portion of the brain, carrying a potentially deadly lesion.
I had carried out, at least, a dozen such operations in Germany on my own in my career, and I had lost only one such patient, through what was then grouped as post-operative complications. It was an acceptable result. A successful Neurosurgeon might operate up to one hundred such tumors in a career that might span fifty years and lose the neighborhood of 15 percent.
Things have improved, to the extent, that recent reports prove much lesser percentages of failure, or, indeed, zero percentages in some cases. I surprisingly succeeded in convincing the family that it did not make sense that their government would bring trained personnel (like me) down to Arabia, and when I encountered a problem, such as we had just received, the type of which I had solved before elsewhere, at least, a dozen times, I should write a medical report for the patient to be sent somewhere else for a solution.
If it was an affront that needed to go away; it was one long since overdue. One got an eerie feeling thinking of a scenario where you were regarded only halfway that capable. I tackled it as something, all or none.
Perhaps, honourable readers would come along. One had to invoke this element of confidence through a challenge. Life without ever standing before challenges would be flat, I told myself, shoulder-high!
I did succeed in overlooking any possibility that race had anything to do with the problem I had come face to face with. I thought it was a problem, and it had to be confronted, win or lose!
To my surprise, the family had grown trust in me by the end of the day, and with the necessary preparation, the Pilocytic Astrocytoma, a benign juvenile tumor more frequently encountered in girls, was subsequently successfully excised, the patient went home, and could continue schooling, etc., etc.
That was good news for a lot of people. For me to begin with, it was superb! For the Indian colleagues assisting me, very fine! The Saudi boys in the team went shoulder-high to their friends and colleagues, telling them how operations, which until then, usually had to be sent to London those days, were being done in Jeddah too, in recent times, and anybody could come to watch.
We enjoyed our afternoon meals lots better after such feats, and oftentimes, the young local colleagues would offer to square up the bills, so to speak.
The Administrator held his head high as well, because, his fight to get a competent Neuro-surgeon as Head of Department had been worth it, he kept telling me, now and again. I started doing spinal surgery with the Administrator, as something he had requested, and I WAS BOTH CAPABLE AND WILLING TO ASSIST HIM LEARN AND DO.
Prominent personalities from the Royalty, as well as industry and commerce, came under the knife with the confidence emerging from our side. Orthopedic surgeons keen for adventures of the spine, received grandiose co-operation.
Two men doing fine work together. We very often went home late, and before then, we would have eaten Kapsah in the ante-room of the theater. Kapsah, only to remind honourable readers, is steamed rice that goes with mutton, equally steamed, but spiced with a thousand recipes, and a variety of seeds, including sesame.
It tends to be fatty most of the time, but for its taste, people tend not to mind a little bit more weight they might add as a result of indulging so much of it. In time though, the increase in weight would show with those who delighted in wearing Western types of attires, instead of the type you would encounter most Saudi men prefer, which is called Thobe.
It is usually cotton, snow white in colour. With the affluence which allowed a huge number of people to ride in air-conditioned German-engineered motorcars, the Thobe could be kept snow white, and worn on a daily basis, plus French and Italian perfume that truly made a ride with them a pleasure.
There was another colour, near-lilac with gold-embroidery, and usually worn on occasions by Princes and Sheiks, or anybody who could afford it.
My friend, OAB, the Orthopaedic Surgeon, thought one should not dress to provoke The Royals. It could have been a joke, but even if not so, there was no good reason finding out. The more loose the Saudi attire appeared on you as a male, the more noble you looked, it seemed.
The Indian colleague meant “the boys we worked with looked princely” when he met them in town, casually dressed, typically Saudi. I tried wearing around myself, visiting often and often, a shop I had discovered that was run by some Palestinians. For myself though, I bought more pairs of trousers – called pants in America. No more size 38, but, suddenly, 40, and even 42. Wow! The prize, and price of binging, AND NO MISTAKE!
(To be continued)