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The heart attack Hospital

Paardekraal Hospital as I remember it
Paardekraal Hospital

The doctor we had in Krugersdorp was a skilled diagnostician. His name was Mossie Jaffee, and some people called him a quack. He smoked a pipe and spent a lot of time at the Union Club in Ockerse Str, where I used to walk past, wanting to go inside to see what went on there but too cowardly to cross the threshold.

The club's management had painted the windows, a sure sign that secret things were going on in the dark recesses of the place.

"I have a slight pain in my chest, not sore, just uncomfortable", I said to my mother, who frowned as if asking, "Is it possible that my child has a heart problem?

It's essential to be honest and genuine in all aspects of life. Faking anything leads to disappointment and regret. Let's strive to be our authentic selves and live with integrity. “I don’t want to go to school," I thought.

Mossie arrived, clutching his brown leather medicine bag and unlit smoking apparatus in one hand. Placing a cool palm on my forehead, he grunted, "Mmmmm", cleaned his spatula, and said, "Open wide" "There is some redness present in that area."

He turned to my father as he put the tar-coloured smoker between his teeth, "That was a bad card you played last night, Manke; that's what cost you the game".

He puffed away at his fire stick and stood up to go.

As he was leaving, my mother asked the doctor about my condition. The doctor responded in a manner that indicated he had forgotten all about me. He said, "Just tell him to take an aspirin and rest in bed for a couple of days." On another occasion, he prescribed a tablespoon of castor oil and a saltwater gargle for my throat.

It appears that Mossie had a feeling that something was not right. These days, aspirin is often given as an immediate treatment for heart attacks. When I had my last episode a week ago, the emergency responder instructed someone to provide me with two aspirin tablets—then transported me by ambulance to receive medical attention.

My memories of doctors are pleasant, thanks to Mossie, and I trust them completely. I remember the time my thumb nearly got cut off when I fell into a pile of glass. I had been playing cops and robbers with my friend Morris at my father’s second-hand building material shop. 

That was an enchanted place for us. One could find secret places in the dark passages between the racks of wooden beams or inside the old army command car that Dad had purchased at a sale of ex-military equipment.

The rush to Krugersdorp Hospital was mad. One would have thought that I was on my deathbed. I watched as Mossie stitched my thumb back on with catgut. I can still smell the chloroform.

Today, that infirmary is known as Yusuf Daddoo Medical Centre. It was located on Monument Hill. Two identical buildings in the Art Deco style of the 1930s faced one another. A traffic circle with a palm tree and flower beds adorned the space in between.

The hospital was founded by Dr. Percy Stewart, Krugersdorp's first government medical officer, in the 1930s. I lived in a street bearing his name. But he’s forgotten, and the avenue and house where I once stayed no longer exist.

I experienced a sudden heart attack recently, which felt like a sharp stab or electric shock that trembled through the upper part of my body. I was sweating, but I didn't feel any lack of energy. At that moment, I remembered the story of an athlete who kept running and then suddenly collapsed and died. In my mind, I said, 'That's not going to happen to me.'"

I went to the medicine cabinet and found monocor, a tablet for emergencies. An hour later, the pain was gone. Meanwhile, Eti had heard me groaning and said on the phone, "Please come quickly; he's having a heart attack."

After all the cardiac problems I’ve had, my wife interprets every pain I have as a pulmonary problem. I ended up in the hospital with blood tests, don’t move instructions, and the catheter. When pain strikes, I usually keep it to myself. However, this time, I knew I couldn't hide it and reluctantly said, "Okay, take me to the hospital."

The mad ride, skidding around bends on two wheels, sirens blasting, and red lights flashing, ended at the emergency room. On a bed propelled into the fluorescent-lighted space by two blue-dressed nurses, who smiled as if they’d been fishing and had made a big catch.

Two medical students were presented with a diagnostic case by their professor to test their knowledge. The ridiculous question, gave me an inkling to what he was aiming at.

He asked, "Where are you?" I hesitated, and his eyes shone with glee that his theory had proved correct. He ordered, "The 8th floor for him." 

"I once had a tourist who believed he was Napoleon brought to that roof of the institution ward. I responded with, "I know where I am, in the hospital". He appeared disappointed and proceeded to ask about the name of the person next to me, my wife. As a joke, I answered with "Rosemary", but soon realised my mistake as it could have landed me in trouble. I quickly corrected myself and stated her real name, "Etti".

The following medical professional entered the room. He took his hands from his white coat pockets and pressed them against my back. "You have a slipped disc," he said.

If this were the cause of my pain, I would be relieved. "I just don't want to hear that the pain comes from a heart condition," I told him.

The professor nodded and said, "Bring on my top student. He'll get the right answer." This genius probed with his stethoscope and answered, "Send him for a CT; this looks like a clot in the lung."

This answer also brought me happiness. "As long as it's not my heart, I thought to myself".

The CT decided the matter; everyone declared, "This is not a disc or a breathing complication, and the fellow isn't crazy" "It's his heart". Into the terrible, cold heart catheterisation room, they rolled ther disappointed creature.

Waiting to welcome me was a bearded male attendant named Nadib. His face rang a bell. "Had Hadassah Hospital added St. Peter’s aquatic animal to its list of fame?" I wondered. The son of the owner of the seafood restaurant on the Tamar beach by the Sea of Galilee solved the puzzle. He had become a male nurse.

"I’ll have mine grilled, please," I said, but Nadib was busy pouring alcohol on the wrist where the catheter was to enter. The metal tube snaked through the life-giving pump until it arrived at the "70%" blockage. Dr Jabbar had done the trick again.

Disappointed at not being served my favourite seafood, They wheeled me to a room overlooking the Judean Hills forests.

The following day, I asked, "Where's the Musht?" There was still no fish.

Somebody plonked a boiled egg on the table beside my bed.

With the hospital report in hand, I was allowed to go home. Besides the bunch of tablets, my diet remained the same, and after my cheese and toast, I was off to the path in the valley to meet my friend Shaul.

In future, I’ll know better than to groan with pain so that doctors and nurses can drag me off like a sack of mealies and prick needles into my arm then pull and push catheters into my heart.

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