Two months after their wedding, my younger sister and her husband relocated to Oman. Kaamil worked as a biomedical engineer in a private hospital while Khansaa stayed at home. They were blessed with a baby girl, Khadeejah. It’s been three years and I was so excited when Khansaa told me that they would be coming home for Eid last year.
The couple looked happy as always. Their daughter was absolutely adorable. She got along with everyone, young and old. I couldn’t stop staring at her flawless fair skin and thick hair bulging under her Syrian style cape. But something was missing… Her left arm was awkwardly positioned by her side. It was as though she was holding something tight under her armpit. Her wrist was flexed to the back like that of a corrupt policeman collecting bribe from a taxi driver.
I asked Khansaa, “What happened to Khadeejah’s left arm?”.
She took a deep breath and her face became flushed. I knew I had touched a sore wound.
“She has Erb’s palsy”, Khansaa began.
“What’s Erb’s palsy?”, I wondered. I held her hands in sympathy. I felt so sorry for bringing up the topic. But at the same time, I wanted to know what had happened to my beautiful niece.
“The doctor said I had shoulder dystocia during her birth. They said it was because of my gestational diabetes”.
The medical terms were getting more scary. I thought it must be something very serious.
“I developed diabetes during the pregnancy and I was offered some medications. Due to my poor compliance, the blood sugar was not controlled. The doctor advised me to be admitted for induction of labour at 37 weeks, then again, I waited for another 2 weeks. The induction went smoothly but the baby’s shoulders became stuck, after the delivery of the head. SubhaanaLlaah! They tried several manoeuvres until the arms came out with injury to the nerves controlling the left arm.”
” SubhaanaLlaah”, I exclaimed. “Is there a cure for it?”
“We have tried several therapies. The main treatment is physiotherapy”, said Khansaa. “I learnt the damage was so bad that it may never be cured completely”.
At that moment, we were both in tears and we tried to console each other. She is such a strong woman. I wouldn’t have known anything if they hadn’t come home. We cried and prayed together until Khadeejah came to break our conversation…
“Mummy! I want to poo poo”, she screamed.