In the last chapter, we showed that the students at Caribbean Training College are praying like the devil himself is after them. Now we return to Pearl, who is in the hospital suffering greatly.
The doctors and nurses did all they could to relieve the pain. When Monday dawned, Pearl felt that she would die. The searing agony shot up her leg, making the bones ache.
“Can’t you operate today?” She pleaded. “I can’t stand it any longer!”
It’s a good question: why can’t they operate today? What is the doctor doing that he needs to wait two whole days to operate? Pearl’s very life hangs in the balance. The longer they wait to operate, the greater the chance the infection will spread. When that happens, Pearl could fucking die. I could understand waiting 12 hours or so to make sure Pearl has digested anything that she’s eaten or drunk. But other than that, I can’t see a good reason to wait so long.
Mrs. Smith tells Pearl that they can’t do the operation today because the specialist hasn’t arrived yet.
Wait, so, I’m confused: The doctor at this hospital isn’t equipped to do the surgery? Wasn’t amputation kind of a basic operation? Are doctors not able to do any surgery at all by themselves? What if someone a burst appendix comes in, are they going to have to bring in a specialist for that too?
Set that aside. I didn’t catch this on the first read through, but the incompetent doctor in the next few chapters is probably not the same asshole Pearl has been seeing. So, maybe the first doctor wasn’t incompetent, just an asshole.
Mrs. Smith tells Pearl about the pray-a-thon (no the book doesn’t call it that) at the school. Pearl chokes out a thank you, and Mrs. Smith reads Bible promises to Pearl.
I will always be grateful that when Adventists did visit me in a hospital, nobody read me the Bible. For future reference, please don’t. Ever. Read me Star Wars. Star Wars is a lot more comforting.
Pearl tells Mrs. Smith that the students’ prayers are helping her.
And you know what, I believe it. No I don’t believe there’s a deity using the power of the students’ prayers to help Pearl. BUT the fact that the whole student body is rallying behind her, the fact that that many people are praying for her, well, that would send a message to someone. It would send a message to Pearl that her fellow students are in her corner. This large pray-a-thon is a show of support. And that is probably exactly what Pearl needs at the moment.
We are told that restful sleep was impossible, but that Pearl dozed off and on all day. When she is awake, someone reads to her from the Bible. Don’t they own any other books?
At 10am, the nurse comes to prepare Pearl for the operation. Pearl is feeling quite optimistic. She is sure that afterward her suffering will be over.
The nurse finished with the preparations and then took Pearl’s temperature and blood pressure. Both were normal.
I am highlighting this, because it will be important in….I dunno, chapter 11? There are a lot of chapters in this book that could have been condensed into section breaks.
Pearl begs Mrs. Smith to read her more “Bible promises.” I get that some people find the Bible comforting, but hasn’t she had enough of that yet?
“My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in Glory by Jesus Christ.
“That must be especially for you, Pearl,” Mrs. Hamilton said. “God is able to supply the courage you need just now. He’ll take care of you through the next few hours.”
Yes, God put that verse in the Bible just for Pearl. Who, by the way, does not need courage from her Sky Daddy. What she needs is for God to heal her leg right the fuck now.
There’s more prayer, and then the nurses come for Pearl, who is feeling a lot of relief in spite of her nervousness.
The nurse checked her pulse, respiration, and temperature again, and reported. “All OK.”
Hold onto that.
It took five of them–the nurse, two medics, and the two women–to get Pearl safely onto the cart.
If this is true, her condition must be absolutely terrible.
“I declare, Pearl,” one of the interns teased, “you’ll be easier to get back in bed without that monstrosity of a leg”
This works. It’s kind of a dark ish sort of humor, but sometimes you just have to find some humor in situations like this one. And I had to find something positive to say about this chapter.
After the nurse tucked the blanket around Pearl, the long journey began.
Hold onto that, too. For next week. Or the week after next, I’m not honestly sure which chapter, but this is relevant, I promise.
The intern wheels Pearl down the hall to the operating room.
[Pearl] was drowsy from the shot the nurse had given her, but still awake enough to tell the doctor, “You can have it, and welcome.”
The nurse gave her some kind of shot. Whatever it was made her sleepy. Hang on to that, too.
The specialist, Dr. Pierre, lifted his gloved hand in salute to his patient.
I am not 100% sure it is the same person, but it seems like this could very well be the doctor Pearl saw. It says that he was in the UK “on study leave” in 1938, which could be why it took him so long to get to Pearl. They probably flew him in especially for this. Maybe there wasn’t a surgeon closer to home at that time, I don’t know.
In any case, it seems like this guy is somewhat of a legend, and not at all incompetent. Which makes the events of this book even more inexplicable.
Then he asked the intern to take the pulse and respiration one last time before starting the anesthetic.
The young medic was at Pearl’s side. “You haven’t changed any since we left your room, have you?” He smiled at her as he reached for her wrist.
His usual jovial expression slowly turned serious as he probed here and there along her arm. “Doctor,” he finally said, “I can’t find the pulse!”
Wha–what? Is this…. is this a plot twist? Is Pearl dead? Can you be alive and still not have a pulse?
Tune in next week to find out if Pearl is still alive.