‘What!’ I shouted!!!
‘That stupid hamster. It died yesterday’, she repeated, ‘You told me to inform you if it dies’
Hala’s pet hamster had bitten my daughter’s finger two days earlier. I did'nt give it much thought at the time. It’s a house pet. I jokingly asked Hala to inform me if it died, which was totally unexpected of course.
‘How did it die?’ I asked as my heart beats started to speed up.
‘I don’t know. It was pretty funny actually’, she added in a still amused tone, ‘It just went crazy, started biting the other hamsters in the cage and they all died.’
‘What on earth are you laughing at?’ I exclaimed now almost hearing my racing heart beats.
My daughter, Janna, was still at school. I called her pediatrician to ask about the anti-rabbies vaccine. ‘You should contact the ministry of health, she said, they are in charge of the vaccination.’
I took Janna and speeded from one clinic to another hunting for the vaccine and talking to every physician I know, or I don’t know for that matter. It was a total mess. Tens of contradicted opinions: vaccines unavailable for kids, vaccines available but no need, she’s gonna be fine; and my favorite: ‘too late anyway, three days had already passed, said an uncompassionate doctor, if the hamster was infected, she probably got the disease already.’
‘You mean she’s dying?” I shouted
‘I did not say that, it’s just too late, no use for the vaccine,’ he added nonchalantly.
My panic was unbearable, I drove to another hospital, then a second, a third… I called my brother in Egypt, he’s a physician. ‘She has to take the vaccine right away, you have to find it,’ he said.
The hunt for the vaccine continued all night long. The longest night of my life.
‘Mama, I’m scared, cried Janna at the back seat of the car, don’t let me die.’
‘It’s okay honey, everything gonna be okay, I promise.’
But everything wasn’t okay. I could not find any physician willing to prescribe the vaccine for me. What’s wrong with those people?
Fine, I finally concluded, maybe she doesn’t need the vaccine after all as some of the physicians suggested. I’ll just go home and forget all about it. The hamster may have died from a sun stroke or something.
‘Are you nuts, give her the vaccine, shouted my brother on the other end of the line, just give it to her!!!’
I had to calm down. Everything was going too fast. I could not think straight anymore. So, I pressed my pause button and went home.
The pause button is one of my favorite stress management tools. It’s an imaginary button, I just imagine it on my forehead. I press it whenever I am stressed, overwhelmed or out of synch. I press to stop and think. Steven Covey, in his famous 7 habits series, teaches that between any action and reaction is a time gap during which you can think and choose the suitable reaction you perceive. Effectiveness entails making good use of this time gap. Pausing to readjust your thoughts and reframe your mind set is by no means time wasting; on the contrary, it helps avoid undesired concequences.
When our mind is so overwhelmed with thoughts and worries, it blocks out. Our neurons start firing randamly in many directions adding to our confusion and helplessness. like the tanggled mess of electric cables lying in my living room connecting my husband's endless electronic equipments.
At home, I took a shower, calmed down and sat on the sofa with the yellow pages on my lap. I started calling hospitals one by one, explaining the case and asking for advice.
‘Yes, we have it,’ finally replied one of them, ‘you can bring her in the morning for the vaccination.’
Thank God, I could finally rest for tonight.