Lina Nissan

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Posted by Stella from ( on Thursday, July 25, 2002 at 9:38PM :

I went to see Lina yesterday at the hospital. She is such a sweet kid. And she is a child still. I actually stopped by the hospital to ask for info about her because i was under the impression that Lina was in a restricted room. I went to the front desk to ask for info about her and the lady tells me that I can go to her room and find out by myself. This really caught me off guard. I was not expecting myself to go and see her. I mean I knew I would eventually. I thought about how she would look when I went to see her, picturing a frail weak thing, bald and curling in the fetal position in her bed. This is not an image I want to see. Selfish, I know. I didn't know what to do when the lady gave me Lina's room number. It is really hard to visit sick people, especially cancer patients. I remember the hospital my dad was in, I remember the room, the floor that it was on, his neighbors in the other rooms, the cold and somber atmosphere that feels like an anchor in your chest. Now imagine this feeling mixed with the feeling of dropping by the house of a complete stranger. Scary. Anyhow, I pulled myself together and took the elevator to the 8th floor. Lina was in a restriced room. However, I could still visit her. I was told by the nurse that I had to wash my hands thoroughly before seeing her. There was a sign on her door that said that no one with a cold or any kind of illness was allowed to enter the room. She's not able to recieve fruits or flowers. I was also supposed to wear a mask to cover my mouth just to really be on the safe side. So then I walked into her room to find Lina, her mother, and her brother Danny (he is her bone marrow match) there. Lina looked so small asleep under the sterile white sheet. She was the small, frail weak girl that I imagined. She had a bandana type headcovering on. I could see through the pink bandana that she barely had any hair. Her mother, brother and I said our greetings. They thought that I worked in the hospital and just came by to check on Lina. They were surprised to find out that I was just an assyrian student visiting Lina just to see how she was and how i can directly help them. Then they told me to take the mask off, it wasn't really necessary. It was kinda hard communicating with them because they came to Chicago without any knowledge of Assyrian and English. They only spoke Arabic and Turkish. Lina's mom's family is originally from Turkey, but they moved to Syria and into the Armenian Orthodox Church, so she's part Armenian in someway (thats what she identitfied herself partly as). THey are learning Assyrian but they are proficient enough to hold a conversation in Assyrian right now. There were some problems in the beginning. Lina's mother was on the phone with one of her relatives who speaks English so she handed me the phone to talk. I spoke with the relative and she informed me that Lina DOES NOT KNOW THAT SHE HAS CANCER. She thinks that she has some kind of liver infection. What a shocking statement. Their choice to not tell her is a positive and a negative one. Her family has her best interest at heart. They do not want a 16 yr old girl to dwell on death and dying. Fear would completely diminish the brightness in her eyes when she was awake. Then again, they are depraving her of the truth. Death is a part of life. We can't deny that.

The lady also told me that her condition right now is very severe. Last Wednesday the doctors did some kind of bone marrow biopsy to see if her condition was stablized. The results from that were negative. They are going to give her another biopsy next wednesday to see if anything has changed. As of right now, Lina has a 10% chance of survival.

Danny and his mother are very sweet people. They offerred me cake every two minutes. Then they whipped out the smuggled Coke. :-) Just by looking at Lina's mother face, you could tell that this woman has been spending the everyhour at the hospital at Lina's bedside. Danny has too. He declared his aversion to hospitals. It's really quite understandable.

Anyhow, I don't remember what I said to Danny, but he responded by saying "basima." to me. Then Lina stuck her head up and said with a giggle, "basimTA." It was so cute how she corrected him. It turns out that her Assyrian is way better than her mom's and her brother's. She seems pretty close to being fluent. And it also turns out that my initial image of the emaciated frail girl was not accurate. Lina is a bright bubbly girl with the most beautiful red cheeks I've ever seen. And a gorgeous smile too. She and I joked around a bit and poked fun at her mother and brother for a couple of reasons. Then one of her nurses came into the room with a Halmark paper bag in her hand and gave it to Lina. Lina opened the bag and pulled out a fluffy orange cat. Her face lit up even brighter than it was before. She thanked the nurse and hugged and kissed the stuffed animal over and over again. Throughout the couple hours that I was there, Lina would hold the cat up and kiss its face. She then had her mom show me her continuously growing stuffed animal collection. Lina is a complete innocent. She's also such a smart girl. Like I said, her Assyrian is superior to her mother's and brother's.

THe nurse came into her room with this giant machine to take Lina's blood pressure with. Her brother and Lina told the nurse that she should not use that machine to take Lina's blood pressure and to use something else. I asked why. Her brother told me that the pressure the machine puts on Lina's arm is too great. It stops the blood flow in her arm and causes it to turn red. So the nurse uses a gentler one.

I told Lina's mom that if they needed anything, to call me. She said just to come by and visit, and to bring my mom too. They need someone to talk to, all three of them do. Lina just lit up everytime the phone rang. She's really an adorable girl. Her smile was ear to ear.

I just wanted to share that with you.


-- Stella
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