Tears in the operating room: A father’s tale of hope and courage.


  • Author Mohammed Dahala Mutala
  • Published December 1, 2023
  • Word count 1,292

It was a rare pleasure to be off work for two days; a chance to revel in the presence of my family, as our children were on break from school. On the first sunrise of my freedom from the workplace, everything was proceeding splendidly. The schedule for the day was methodically arranged, beginning with a family breakfast followed by a crossword contest between me and my first-born, then a drive to the salon with my youngest daughter, and a two-hour TV indulgence of their favourite show, Monbug Kids on DSTV. Later during the day, we planned to visit the bouncy castle. It was a much-anticipated event, and my family was utterly excited for it. My wife had made extra effort the previous night to ensure everything was in place, as the last family gathering had been a disappointment. Her maternal instinct was at an all-time high today.

In the last outing, our plans were marred by some items that were left behind. The kids' football and swimming suit were two essentials that she accidentally omitted. This unfortunate mishap forced us to forego our intended activities. To prevent a recurrence, I stayed up late to assist with packing. On the day of the trip, we cross-checked our list diligently to ensure that all necessary items were packed. My daughter's bubbly personality was infectious the morning of our planned adventure. She would intermittently visit my room with eagerness, craving reassurance that our trip was still on the agenda. Her need for affirmation was commonplace anytime she was promised an outing. Double-checking my car beforehand was necessary to ensure a perfect day out.

While enjoying breakfast, my youngest child of five months laid in his crib, maybe even more excited than me. The little guy smiled and giggled as he watched his older siblings eat. You could tell he wanted to join them so bad, but he was too young.

With backpacks ready to go, we were about to embark on a beautiful Thursday morning together. But then something weird happened.

I noticed my baby had stomach pain which worried me. The way he cried was different than usual. And it was also louder. The boy seemed like he could go on forever as his cries got louder. This made me scared. I started to feel like the good day was going to turn bad quickly. I couldn’t help but feel for him more as the intensity increased. My wife and I decided that taking him to the hospital would be a good idea before doing anything else we planned. As I drove to the hospital, a tiny voice kept saying ‘Murphy is at it again, Murphy is at it again’. At that point, I didn’t even know who Murphy was, but all I knew was that our day was going to be ruined. At the hospital the nurse couldn’t help but feel for my son too and agreed that his cries seemed much more painful than usual. As she did some tests on him, they echoed throughout the room and even into my head so hard that I forgot what today’s plan even was or what I wanted to do after this check-up. In a moment of panic, strange thoughts ran through my mind. Why carry on with the outing plan when there’s a baby in danger?

After what felt like hours, the doctor came out of the lab room and asked me to his office. His appearance alone was enough to make my heart skip a beat. The room was dead quiet, other than the pounding from my heartbeat. He finally spoke up.

“I’m very sorry...But your son has been diagnosed with introsusception.” I interrupted him.

“What is it doc?” I impatiently asked (heart still racing)

“Intussusception is when one part of the intestine slides into another like how telescope parts collapse. It’s a condition that primarily affects infants and children and requires immediate medical attention”.

The doctor continued rambling on about my baby's condition while I said a silent prayer for him, deep down, begging for any sort of relief or solution. Unable to look at her, I stole a glance at my wife who looked just as worried, if not more. The moment I did that, everything in me fell apart and shot up all at once.

Her eyes told a story. Fear and vulnerability flooded her eyes, she wasn’t crying but you could see the raw emotion of wanting to help and fear of what’s to come. The type of look only a mother can give. The two of us were first timers in this situation and it’s clear we didn’t know what to do or how to console one another.

As I was talking to the doctor my wife remained silent, but the lack of words didn’t mean her message wasn’t being understood. Her silence was so loud that I could hear every prayer for our boy telepathically.

Sitting outside in the car were our other kids, all silent waiting for us so we can go begin our day on that picnic. In this moment I was torn between comforting my wife or going out there and telling them that we had to cancel the trip because their brother needed surgery to correct the condition he has. It was not an option I wanted to pick because either way it would ruin their mood.

The doctor handed me the agreement form, urging me to sign it before they could proceed with the operation on my child. My hands trembled uncontrollably as I held the pen, and the words on the paper seemed to dance before my eyes, casting doubts in my mind. Was signing this document an acceptance of potential tragedy? Would I be blamed if something went wrong? What would my wife and other children think knowing that my signature initiated this life-or-death surgery? As a first-time father in such situation, saving my son's life was all-consuming, leaving no room for hesitation or delay. With my trembling and wet hands, a signed the agreement form.

The operating room was well-lit and smelled of sterilizers. I could hear the beeping of lab equipment as my baby boy lay swaddled in a green blanket, surrounded by four male surgeons. With closed eyes, he drifted off under the effects of anaesthesia. The surgical team said a brief prayer and reviewed their plan before beginning the operation.

During the four-hour surgery, my young son showed remarkable composure, remaining still and calm. The chief physician would occasionally lean in close to him, whispering comforting and reassuring words in his ear.

The sight of the motionless and seemingly lifeless body sent a chill down my spine, sparking an unsettling train of thought. Questions flooded my mind. What if he were truly deceased? But I quickly dismissed such a possibility. An overwhelming mix of emotions consumed me, predominantly negative ones. Anxiety about the outcome compelled me to pace back and forth in the operating room.

I wished silently to alleviate his pain, while striving to maintain my composure. Memories of the joyful morning I spent with him before the hospital visit rushed into my mind, but unnoticed tears began to fall in the eyes until I felt a drop on my palm. The Dr. touched my hand, looked me long in the face and said “Mr. Dahala, everything is going to be alright, I assure you”.

I could feel my knees begin to grow weak, the room was spinning, and my vision was becoming blurry. I didn’t notice when I collapsed into the chair. As I regained consciousness, I noticed that my baby had been placed on the recovery bed.

Dahala is a ghost-writing blogger, Health

and Safety Trainer and freelancer who writes compelling and reader-friendly contents. As you engage his services you are assured of a storyteller who makes your vision visible on

pages. He tries to make his words illuminate the lives of many in his writing.

Visit his website at www.halaalplace.online or email him at halaalplace@outlook.com

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