Special thanks to my muse, all the young girls of the world; my closest ally, friend, and companion, Marisela; and my family and all the children of the world from whom I acquire immense knowledge. Also to my dearest friends who impact my life on a daily basis: Dr. Sony, Dr. Sukhmani, Safwat, Androula, Shahnaz, Lina Simon, Laila Simon, Eddie Shalhoub, Natalie Harb, Simon Simon, Maria Guevera, Dr. Faten Bebawi, Dr. Nardeen Shafik, Fayez Ibrahim, Sultana and Hani Wazzan, Daniela Veizaj, Ginny Offstein, my dear childhood friend Vera, Atef Khalil, Celine Zamoyska and Taran, Dan Dion, Tracey, Jessica, Lily, Dr. Eric Hanson, and Professor Kathleen Hanson, and all the others whose names are printed in my heart.
I wish to offer my gratitude to my physicians who work tirelessly and selflessly to save my life: Grammy Award–winning Dr. Mike Vasilomanolak, Dr. David Shen, Dr. David Rosenberg, Dr. Nancy Godfrey, Dr. Farin Azadeh, Dr. Michael Kim, Dr. Kashyap Trivedi, my Italian brothers Dr. Mario Curti and Dr. Thomas Asciuto, Dr. Laura Manuel, Dr. Christopher Witson, Dr. Harry Karp, Dr. George Macer, Dr. Robert Liou, Dr. Stevens Grant, and Dr. Stephen A. Hightower. Also to all of my nurses, especially Elizabeth Alvarez, Lucy, and Va, and to all the victims of medical and life challenges.
Also to all the nurses and staff at Todd Cancer Pavilion for making my therapy experience as tolerable as possible.
I would like to thank my legal advisers and friends Mrs. Ruth Shamir and Mr. Jack Golan of the law firm of Popkin, Shamir, and Golan and my personal honorable barrister, Joseph Henein, Esq.
There are only two ways to react to life’s trials and tribulations: Either to become frustrated, bitter, angry and feeling sorrow, or to see all events as comical and, somewhat, whacky. There has never been a day in human existence that did not have surprises and astonishments; how each of us reacts, determines the outcome.
Life is a divine comedy; the line between fiction and non-fiction is very thin and elastic. One can stretch it from fiction to reality or vice versa; another can cross the line all together. This writer finds the difference so fuzzy and indistinct that often he is oblivious whether occurrences are fictional or real; he only sees all things as a form of a divine comedy meant to amuse and charm. He does not mind it at all; to him, whether it is fiction or otherwise is irrelevant; what matters is that it is.
This writer is not disquieted whether his tale of his past twenty-five years is factual or fiction. For him, the difference is inconsequential, and he prefers that his readers decide. The fable is such an implausible one that many shall see it fictional; but to him, it is his life as he is accustomed.
He shall take you on a stormy journey through his medical, emotional, and personal life of the last twenty-five years, since he was a thirty-five-year-young man. He has been so strong, positive, and productive, that even his physicians have been overwhelmed.
Nothing is more devastating, destructive, or shattering for a man than losing his sexuality. In chapter three, I wrote about the surgeries that Dr. Robert Pugach performed and their role in making me impotent; however, Dr. Robert Kawatchi of the City of Hope was able to miraculously resolve that issue by prescribing me a very costly compound pharmacy solution called Tri-Mix-PGE 1/phetolamine/papaverine injections, made at the University of San Diego. My beautiful Marisela has to inject me if I had the desire, which I rarely do, for my penis to become erect. Sadly, my body became resistant to the medica- tion; we increased the dose from five milligrams to twenty-four milligrams, but the result was not that satisfactory.
This aspect of the divine comedy was quite damaging to my spirit—and damaging also for my beautiful wife, Marisela, who is seventeen years younger. Life’s divine comedy did not stop here—no! Not long ago, I suffered a serious problem with enlargement of my prostate. My urologist, Dr. Hightower, had decided to operate and shave my prostate. The surgery I underwent at Long Beach Hospital left me in pain, bleeding, and with urinary symptoms I had never experienced before. After the surgery, my dear reader, I was completely impotent; my penis would never be erect again. This would not have been much of a problem except that I still had sexual desires, and I had a young wife to whom I needed to attend. What might be more a sign of both deep confusion and divine comedy? To nature, however, I would be the last man standing.
What perturbed me about these circumstances were the expressions of sympathy from my friends and colleagues. They all knew about my old sexual escapades and felt how troubling my impotence must be for me, so they express their thoughts of pity, and I abhorred that. After the surgery, however, I lived my sexual life vicariously, experiencing it in my imagination through the actions of other people.
Comical measures and trials may vary, but they are always thriving. One occurrence is certainly unforgettable; that is when I had to go to Long Beach Hospital because I had an un-subsiding erection. How whacky is that? It was a Thursday afternoon when my beautiful wife, Marisela, and I decided to play husband and wife. She injected me with twenty-four milli- grams of the Tri-Mix. We made passionate love for a much longer time than usual; we were both very happy. One drawback
evolved, though; I suffered, or enjoyed, an unsubsided erection that lasted for hours.
Although I believe in no gods or demons or angels or witches, I think Marisela is an angel who was sent to me from some- where. I cannot think of anyone who can endure such a life. Indeed, Marisela is what others might call an angel.
My stepchildren came home from school, and I was dreadfully mortified, trying to hide my, at that time, painful erection. There was nothing to make it subside. I called Long Beach Hospital, and the dialogue was very uncomfortable; it sounded like a lewd phone call. I explained to the nurse the condition, and I had to assure her of the veracity and that it had nothing to do with sexual desire. The nurse asked that I go to the hospital without delay. When I arrived at the hospital, in a taxi, hid- ing my erect penis with papers in my hand, I approached the registration desk and very softly said, “I have an unsubsiding erection.”
The female clerk said in such a loud voice that I thought people throughout the United States heard of my dilemma, “You have an unsubsiding erection?”
I felt that everyone at the emergency room was looking at me, and in embarrassment, I replied, “Yes.”
The triage nurse moved me to a private room and asked me to take off my pants and underwear; they covered me with a
white sheet. I looked so peculiar when my legs were straight, as my penis showed like a rod under the sheet.
I waited for a doctor, but while I was waiting, many female nurses and other women who appeared not to be nurses came to the room for one excuse or another. I felt that all the nurses called their relatives from around California to come and see “the man with an unsubsided erection.” It was both disconcert- ing and gratifying at the same time, but I cannot explain why it was gratifying. Then came a young female doctor; she asked me if she could touch it—holy shit! She rubbed my penis softly with her delicate thumb and index finger up and down. Instantly, I felt a stronger, more solid erection. What a haunting situation! The condition turned into desire even though I was thinking that my naughty past was receding fast before my eyes and the memories of my yesterdays were on their deathbed. But, like a phoenix, I rose from the ashes and became a gentle butterfly.
I wondered if my growth and change were a forgery. Then I realized that, like in paintings, everything, including love, hate, relationships, and even personality changes, could be a forgery. However, I believe that in every forgery, there is some authenticity.
I was still experiencing the effects of that last prostate surgery in terms of urgency, frequency, and the continuous feeling of a urinary-tract infection. It would take about eight weeks to heal. This was not all that nature presented me with. I also had an urgent surgery of a different kind.
Only weeks earlier, Dr. Trivedi discovered through an MRI that my gallbladder was almost destroyed. It was full of stones—practically blocked. He sent me to surgery at once. As I have written above, my surgeon was the great doctor Stevens Grant, the best in America in this specialty. He operated on me; my recovery was very quick, and it was as though noth- ing had happened, though my life had been in extreme danger. This was another blow from life’s divine comedy; it seemed that it worked so against me, but I did not take it personally. It is for all of us. Nature is about destruction. “Many call this process ‘the destruction of nature.’ But it’s not really destruc- tion; it’s change. Nature cannot be destroyed,” wrote author Noah Harari. So nature is about change, constant change, and we have to be flexible enough to bend. I try.
On a different note, here I am reminded of Joseph B. Wirthlin’s thoughts about taking life for granted; he once told us that the more often we see the things around us—even the beautiful and wonderful things—the more they become invisible to us. That is why we often take for granted the beauty of this world: the flowers, the trees, the birds, and the clouds—even those we love. Because we see things so often, we see them less and less. The reason I remember this is my inability to walk for more than ten minutes before I either fall or must sit down. It was not long ago that I would stroll along the beach, admiring the Pacific Ocean’s vastness, the birds of all species flying, the dogs passing by and playing on the sand, the children building sand castles, and the kites flying above as though asking us to join them. Those were good days that cannot be relived. It is
a lesson, nevertheless, that makes me more aware of my exis- tence and the existence of all that surrounds me.
Whether this is a divine comedy plan or not, I tend to live in the past; perhaps it is because the present is challenging, and the future is oblique. I do realize that the longer I live in the past, the less I enjoy the present, and the further away the future seems. I cannot help it, however.
Another matter of concern is my sense of coordination; I can no longer button my shirts, tie my shoes, or pick up something from the floor. It appears as though each part of my body has a mind of its own and does its own thing regardless of orders from my brain. So my brain is no longer the commander in chief. It is amazing and quite ironic, since the imbecile presi- dent is actually now America’s com
Chapter One of "Divine Comedy"
My name is Alexandre Akpors. I live in the only modern Fascist State in the world of the year 2017. How this State became a Fascist, no one knows, and I assure you no one will ever know. I shall not name the State out of respect for my readers’ intelligence. I shall only write that its leader is referred to as POTUS, which stands for (Pathetic Oligarchy Treacherous Unavailing Savage.)
It is not a great time, but it is not a bad time, either. To borrow from the great Charles Dickens novel “A Tale o Two Cities,” “It is a season of light; it is a season of darkness.” I am attracted to the light, and I walk toward it each time I am able to spot it, which happens not too often. This is a suggestive part of the divine comedy, of which this tale is being told.
Where do I begin? Well! I came to this Fascist State in 1980; it was not a Fascist State, yet; it was a major drug dealer under its leader, then, Ronald Reagan and his deceptive wife, Nancy Reagan. When I was a vibrant thirty-five-year-old professor living in a modest apartment on Paramount Avenue in the city of Downey, California, on a gloomy day in 1991 or 1992, I suddenly felt an extraordinary chest pain, jaw pain, and general discomfort. I called my ex-wife and my son, Christian, immediately and, since they lived very close to where I was, they came over, and we called for help. The ambulance arrived shortly, and I was taken to the nearest medical facility, which was Downey Hospital.
Evidently, I had a myocardial infraction. I was removed from Downey hospital via ambulance to UCI where I had a heart surgery, and after a couple of days, I returned home. It took me six months to recover, but I was on Cardizem and Nitroglycerin for several years.
In addition to the extraordinary fear of that divine comedy episode, I had to wear a heart monitor around my neck for many months. Up until now, I have to go through a stress-echo test once a year to ensure that my valve, since I have MVP, which stands for Mitral Valve Prolapse, works effectively. And according to the Mayo Clinic, this “occurs when the leaflets of the mitral valve bulge (prolapse) into the heart's left upper chamber (left atrium) like a parachute during the heart's contraction. Mitral (MY-trul) valve prolapse sometimes leads to blood leaking backward into the left atrium.”
Premonition has it that I see Dr. Michael Vasilomanolakis, who is also a Grammy Award Winner, once or twice a year for an advanced check up and advice on the many medications I currently take. Dr. Vasilomanolakis has become a great friend, and I trust him blindly. My Cardiologist brother, Dr. Alfons Bebawi, has met him and he agrees with me that he is one of the greatest doctors ever. Having a Cardiologist brother is another face of the divine comedy that never ceases to amaze or amuse me. I watch; I feel; I smile and look at nature’s large grey eyes staring with a smile that I feel nature folds up in embarrassment. I smile a little longer and wonder about life and its divine comedy.
Divine Comedy Review
“I think it will be a great success, very well written and the tone/style is consistent throughout. It flowed nicely and seemed well thought out and planned. Good, smooth transitions. It held my attention all the way to the end.”
Sydney, Fiverr Editorial Staff
Divine Comedy Review
It is ironic that I happen to know the author of "Divine Comedy", likes to be known as Dr Bebawi, for this book is an extraordinary tale of one man fighting against a never-ending plague of medical conditions, to which the author's academic doctorate is totally irrelevant. The tale does, however, make up for the author's lack of medical training with the constant flow of health professionals that are in the cast. For any man to have to digest the poisonous soup of diseases with strange names, that is the theme running through this fictional tale of non-fiction, is punishment enough. But for that same man to have to suffer the trials of an overactive sexual appetite, for which the physical apparatus required to satisfy same, ends up among the many failing organs in his body, must be purgatory indeed. Whether or not the narrator, Alexander Akpors, would ever get to meet St Peter is a moot question, such that he may never find out if his radiographically-induced halo will ever have a chance to blind the Saint. Whilst the reader is never given a chance to forget the title of the book, the comedic aspect of the real or imaginary life that one learns about, is always close to the surface. But in this writer's mind there is nothing very divine about this endless, overly repetitious tale of suffering, and sexual encounters, both successful and otherwise, that leaves the reader both mentally exhausted and longing for a long and healthy life, free from all temptations of the flesh, and never, ever, having to set foot inside a medical doctor's consulting room.
Author, Taran Hewitt, England
“…It [Divine Comedy] held my attention all the way to the end.”
Book Review, Sydney
“…For any man to have to digest the poisonous soup of diseases with strange names, that is the theme running through this fictional tale of non-fiction, is punishment enough. But for that same man to have to suffer the trials of an overactive sexual appetite, for which the physical apparatus required to satisfy same, ends up among the many failing organs in his body, must be purgatory indeed.”
Author, Taran Hewitt, Great Britain
“…The author did an excellent job of reminding us of the ever-changing nature of our world. Bebawi threaded a similar situation repeatedly, although the ailments and the faces changed. The ability to be true to a theme while still introducing new challenges and ideas allow Bebawi to truly master the writing of this book.”
Suzanne Gattis, Pacific Book Reviews
“…The plot moves along well in this story, and it keeps good pace. The narrator is compelling.”
Lora, CreateSpace Editor, a Division of Amazon
“…The story is engaging; the writer’ philosophy is that life is a divine comedy and the line between fiction and reality is not always clear. The strength of the story is the narrator’s interesting background and strong opinions, which makes for a distinctive point of view.”
Erica, CreateSpace Editor, a Division of Amazon