‘Can I cut?’ I asked my anesthesiologist enthusiastically. ‘Go ahead,’ she said, her eyes glued to the screen. After my silent prayers to the God of the surgeon’s tireless strength, I always asked that question to ensure that everything was in place. So I start the ritual.
I remember the brief history that was given to me moments ago when the patient was being wheeled in.
‘Tommy lee Jones, twenty five year old male, basketball player, presented with abdominal pain after a trauma in the B Ball court, a CT scan revealed hemoperitoneum’
I knew this could be a ruptured liver. I was going to do an exploratory laparatomy to rule it in and arrest the bleeding as fast as possible then suture the liver.
The abdomen was open, I moved my hands quickly without wasting any motion to catch the left large artery delivering blood to the liver, I clamped it and then like magic the bleeding stopped. I had seen a jet of blood gush from it. The abdomen was in a mess though, dark red blood was everywhere and I could hardly see my surgical field. My assistant had foreseen the mess and was ready with the sucker and so, he did what he does best, he cleared the surgical field leaving a clean working field.True to my instincts, it was a ruptured liver. A little bleeding could be seen at the site of liver rupture. I whispered to myself, ‘This is where I thrive’. So as is the norm, I did a mattress suture to the liver, a technique that I struggled so much to learn during my days in Edinburgh. I then looked at the gallbladder. It was intact. I finished up with the bleeder that I had clamped before. And then everything was good. I looked at Jill again, ‘He is stable,’ she says, her voice ringing in my ears melodiously, rising to a rhythmic crescendo. ‘Country boy, you are in love,’ something tells me.
I left the operating theater at half past eight later that evening. Tommy lee Jones was slowly recovering from the operation. He is an NBA basketballer so I have to monitor him closely before allowing him back to the court. I wrote about his case for the upcoming liver workshop in Boston, Massachusetts. I was proud of the person I had become.
“Oliver! Go get the cows; the clouds are pregnant with rain!” I heard my mother’s voice. I thought I was dreaming. I was not dreaming. The nimbus clouds were lying low in the sky, they would soon burst in unison to release their contents.
All this while I had been in my room, my pen sliding furiously past paper. I was living in a time that was only in my mind. No one could live it except me. I saw it coming though. I don’t know why my reverie took me to America. To an operating theater where i was the head surgeon. Perhaps it’s because it is a free world. I rejected this offer before, but now that i am resting at home because of election skirmishes in school, I want to go to this land. We have had enough of poor governance in Africa. The young leaders are even worse. I don’t know what this people want. All I want is to do that operation that I did, several miles away from home. I know this part of the world is liberated.Africa is not rising fast. Here in the University of Nairobi liberation is a hope rather than a reality. One of the students has clung to power, the way a dying man clutches at the straws. He is competing with Mugabe and Museveni for the longest serving leader in a weak system. Africa is in slumber. Deep slumber. I Oliver Kiaye is awake.My greatest misfortune was to be born in Africa-slumber land. I want to go to America, the dream that dreamers dream of. When am there, I want to be the head surgeon that I was in that dream of mine. Dreams will take me there…