Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Egypt – LVIII. My Years at 12A Rue Khantaret Ghamra – Sickness (2 of 6)

What illnesses affected the members of our household?


My dad suffered a lot in his life; but the worst pain was inflicted by kidney stones, and this in turn was followed by gallbladder stones.

Because of an individual susceptibility, his diet, and the water, stones may form in the kidneys. Often, these stones are small and can be passed out with the urine. But with larger stones, this is not possible.

Today, a procedure called “Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy” (ESWL) can be used to shatter the stones into small particles which can then be excreted with the urine. In ESWL, shock waves that are created outside the body travel through the tissues until they hit the denser stones. Like any other medical procedure, ESWL carries risks; as well, complications may arise, for instance, blood in the urine. ESWL is painful, and most of the time, anesthesia is required. Even with ESWL, there are times when surgery is the only practical option. Needless to say, ESWL did not exist back in the ’40s and my father, when he had an attack, was in agony.

The kidneys have around them a pain-sensitive capsule; the pain signals sent by this covering to the brain are very strong and the pain experienced is severe.

This is what happens when you have stones. A stone can become lodged in the ureter, the slender tube that connects the kidney with the bladder. Urine flow is then blocked, which causes urine to back up into the kidney. The kidney then gradually enlarges and the pain-sensitive area is stretched. This is called a renal colic, and the pain comes in waves. Such a pain has been described as being almost as severe as that of childbirth.

When he was in the throes of one of his attacks, my mother dressed and went to fetch Dr. Manasseh who lived across the street. Inevitably, it always happened at night, and Dr. Manasseh did not appreciate having his sleep interrupted. But he came anyway and injected Nessim with a painkiller.

Dad consulted a urologist who prescribed a diuretic, a change in diet, and plenty of liquid. With a little bit of luck the stones would pass out. And two of them indeed did. He gave them to the specialist for further analysis. Unfortunately, there were bigger stones which stubbornly refused to be expelled. The time came when the doctor saw surgery as the only option; this despite the enormous risks any type of surgery entailed at the time.

The surgery eventually took place in Alexandria, presumably because Nessim felt they had better hospitals there. The Alexandria family attended to him during the recovery period, and the convalescence. And he eventually became his old self again. All well that ends well? Not quite, unfortunately.

It was 1948 when Nessim went under the knife again. This time it was for gallbladder stones, a condition which brought even worse pain, and many trips to Dr. Manasseh in the middle of the night. With his gallbladder removed, my father recovered his health and his sanity once again.

Nisso was a half-pack-a-day smoker. After the surgery he wanted to smoke, but the doctor forbade it. As a result, he became very agitated. Eventually, the doctor allowed half a cigarette every 3 hours. My father stuck a pin at one end of his half-cigarette to ensure he would derive the maximum “benefit!”

Take that as a warning. If you smoke, try to quit. If you never smoked, don’t start!

For many years, my father suffered from a stomach ulcer. What caused ulcers was not understood then, nor was there any remedy for it. This meant more pain for him.

Later in life, he would suffer from a heart condition. He had two heart attacks, the second one was sudden and killed him at the young age of 62.

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