Whatever they do, average Europeans talk about prices and life costs, and since I live in Austria, I never met a person, who complaining about personal financial predicaments, would not mention option of playing lotto and wining a million, as if mathematical likelihood of event equated not to its magical probability.
But how about idea that our very arrival in this world is occurrence of immeasurably greater randomness, than chance to win a million in lotto?
If conception took place 5 minutes later, fertilized cell would get other set of qualities and form other personality, not speaking already that conception could fail. But even if miracle of merge succeed, potential mother can make abortion later.
Once in crisp and frosty Moscow winter, working over my journalist projects, I was suddenly abashed by doctor, who during routine check discovered cyst in the right side of my body and suggested surgical intrude. I packed toothbrush and slippers, and found myself in the gynecologic ward of publishing center hospital – with five other women, who waited for their turn in tight schedule of medical abortion machine.
We all left our most acute fears at the porch of hospital, and once being accepted in room with beds and night tables standing in the row, we were ready to surrender. It was not expression of fear, but infinite patience and readiness to subdue physical pain, together with guilt and shame, I observed at the faces around me.
Apart from many years of compulsory education and praxis, success of many medical professionals seemed to be preprogrammed by hypnotic faith that many patients developed toward white-gowned doctors in walls of medical institutions.
After cereal breakfast, which was eaten only to follow rules, the surgeon – small man in tall starched cap, surrounded by suite of nurses, appeared in the ward. He had blue shrewd eyes, and justly considered psychological state of his patients to be important part of his pre-operation work. People with health problems tend to develop instantly trust in miraculous might of medicine. This trust literally cures them, and urges doctor to construct his self-image in corresponding way as superior to normal humans – person who has no right to err.
In previous years, soviet women had abortion as number one method of birth control with other methods unavailable or having less degree of finality. But even when 20’th century was close to an end, many women still used this tool of liberation from maternity, perfectly knowing abortion could have fatal consequences. If not fertility problems, it was always inevitable psychological trauma, humiliation and rude attitude of nurses, plus physical pain woman was exposed to.
As my case was more complicated one, surgeon found a few minutes of his precious time to talk to me in private.
– Consider that consequence of operation made can be 70 percent sterility, – he told, searching for signs of feminine desperation in my face, – but consequence of operation unmade can be fatal for your life.
I decided for life and stayed in ward observing abortion conveyor in work.
At eleven o’clock first woman was injected and brought to surgery, great part of which was occupied by gynecological chair. This piece of equipment looked like torture invention of inquisition, with difference it was more elaborate. The legs of woman were sprawled and fixed to prevent occasional move and then chair was lifted to level of doctor’s face to supply complete view. Flesh was exposed for scalpel work,
and set of metallic instruments at glass table nearby resembled anatomic pathology instruments in morgue. The task of surgeon, who needed cold head of butcher and motor abilities of musician, was to separate implanted fetus from uterus. Unborn human in project looked like a frog, but already gripped tightly at mother, and as operation was done without seeing what was going inside, sometimes walls of uterus in mess of blood and pieces of scraped flesh were damaged by scalpel.
My case was not pregnancy, but worse. Let us look what color your bowels are. Operation technology was incision through abdomen: my poor belly was to be cut open and then I must be sewn again as staffed Christmas turkey.
Feeling unusual lightness in head, I submitted myself to nurse and was ushered in artificially lit room with operation table in the form of cross. There I was crucified and asked to talk after anesthesia injection. I always recollect these moments using insecticide against ants and flies in the room. Getting portion of poison, the fly makes convulsive moves with feet and then slowly goes to sleep. Operation anesthesia, as not only pain-, but also life-killing, gives true picture, what one can see after death. There is no tunnel of light, or beautiful garden, or any other image, but eternal nothingness. From this blissful nothingness I emerged in the afternoon in ocean of unbearable pain. The books about war related me before that most excruciating pain was endured by solders injured in belly cavity. I suddenly knew what those solders felt. Only on third day after operation, I started to notice what was going around.
Back in common ward after week time, I felt everything in the world changed. There were already new faces, new life stories. String of women, who wanted to get rid of pregnancy, had no end. Some of them failed to use contraception or forgot to take a pill, some became pregnant by chance after occasional intimacy, or as result of lost self-control or making man happy, some endured rape, that they kept in secret, some drank glass of wine with friend and became nonchalant, some grew too trustful to man who promised to control ejaculation, and nobody believed something wrong would occur.
In the afternoon, after sanitary peevish ladies replaced bloody sheets by fresh ones, women had male visitors, who appeared in doorway with bouquet, looking a little bit guilty, but all the same released that problem was solved and woman would be available again. Some women had no visitors, and felt themselves inferior. Nobody would tell them : “ I am sorry” and bring fruits. Especially one, with pale face and long fair hair, was always looking searchingly in the window, as if waiting for somebody. Who would bring oranges rapped in cellophane. But nobody came.
And every morning small surgeon appeared in ward to deal with next pack of unwanted pregnancies. He was rather efficient professional, but I always wonder how high the rate of his professional mistakes was. Year later I head he was transferred to other hospital. One of his patients wrote complaint to administration that after operation that meant to make her vagina smaller, she could not make intercourse at all, because sewed by small surgeon vagina was too tight.