Operating theatres are cold. My blood pressure had shot up to 170, and my anesthetist wanted my ECG taken to determine if surgery was still a go. As I lay down virtually chilling in the ward awaiting her verdict, my overseeing nurse came to check on my pressure. It was dwindling, now at 165. After three more periodic checks I was wheeled in with the ECG printout clamped to the clipboard at my footboard. Then came the anesthetist, marching briskly with her air of seniority and experience.
"Your ECG is fine, so I will proceed ya. I am Dr Ang, I am your anesthetist." She paused for effect. I already knew anesthetists were real doctors but often were mistaken for common nurses and sometimes had baggage with that lack of recognition. So as not to waste her introduction of distinction, I cheerfully said, "Good morning doctor!!!"
With her satisfaction intact, then came the litany of questions, over my allergies, if I had been under surgery before, if I had asthma, diabetes, delivered a baby, et cetera et cetera, all to which I said, "No, doctor."
"I am going to put a needle into your hand," then she turned to the male nurse, where is that one with the yellow end? No, it's just that I like the one with the yellow end. Right. My anesthetist has a colour fetish in needles. Then back to me she said, " Through this, I will give you your anesthetics."
She did her work almost painlessly, which is a first ever for me because I hate needles and most medical practitioners find it difficult to harness onto any of my veins, even for a blood test. I was then left to my devices till Dr Ravi came in, dressed in scrubs, and we greeted each other. He assured me not to worry as this procedure would leave very little post surgery pain. I wondered then, had my meek as a lamb to the slaughter face turned into my OMG I am gonna die bleeding face?
Then the moment came. I was wheeled into the operating theatre. I anticipated the theatrical countdown to my loss of consciousness, just as they were with George Clooney. Instead, a mask was put over me. I could hear the anesthetist and the nurses chattering. In hardly three seconds, it hit me. I said aloud, "Wow, this feels like taking down a litre of tequila in two seconds!!" And then, I was blissfully out.
I knew I had come to when I was being wheeled back to the ward. My throat hurt like I had just finished my hundredth act in a circus as a sword swallower. I desperately wanted to ask for my phone, but the nurses ignored me altogether. The only companionship I had was the automated blood pressure device inflating flirtatiously around my arm every five minutes. I realised that I could hear the nurses' gossip. I had rejoined the living world, although everything had an mp3-like quality to it.
As soon as I was discharged, I predictably headed straight for food. Belly filled, I pondered the next two days to obtaining the verdict over the biopsy. It was first to drive back to Kerteh and do the necessary at the company admin, then drive down again on Thursday, one night prior my follow up.
Brenda suggested being early for my appointment.
When my name was called, we both went in. I tried scanning Dr Ravi's countenance for any tell, but he kept the poker face up till we were both seated. He began with, "The good news is.....". We remained politely quiet while he went through the diagnosis, heaving many sighs of internal relief that it was not naso-pharyngeal cancer. It was instead, enlarged adenoids caused by reflux or infection, and could be controlled by diet and medication. He showed me by way of scope, the grommets inserted into the eardrum incisions. Follow-up to examine the healing of my eardrums was set for 25th September. Yes, and with the compliments of the good doctor, I was gifted with a Medic-TV styled video recording of the surgery and biopsy. What else could I ask for? We have since watched that video, and it has the effect of making the girls' eyes tearful, in an "ouch" way.
|That there, is what a grommet looks like, sitting in the eardrum|
It was still early in the day and the worst of it was behind us. Rowena was with us all the while, and she was in on the facts of my surgery but not the biopsy. By the time we were done with the hospital, she knew what the biopsy could have meant. However, it was time to now let Ethan and Ellen know.
We went on a wild drive down to Nilai to get Ethan first, then to get Ellen before heading to Jaya One. Lunch was all the time Ellen could spare as she was in the middle of her exams, as was Ethan, save his test papers were better spaced out. We trudged to Brussels Café for an indulgent round of pasta, bratwurst in bacon, Hoegaarden and Magners, and family talk over the significant events of the week. There was some amount of indignation over not being informed, but the hindsight of being made to worry only of it came to having to worry was acknowledged. All in all it was good, on all fronts.
Yes, I am grateful that this episode did not turn out to be life-altering. I was stopped at the sooty gates and told to go back for another shot at living, likely because my personal lake of brimstone had not been remodeled to fit my calibre. I am glad nobody has to shoulder a yoke owing to my physical failings. I cannot yet fathom the forbearance and tenacity of those who have to live with cancer or the pained courage of those who love them and care for them, wrung from their guts day after living day.
I understand that in my absence from flight while awaiting my conversion to the new aircraft, friend and foe alike have been discussing my condition with surgically precise facts gleaned from goodness knows where over the operations area radio. As the news recirculates, there will be friends who will be overjoyed and relieved that not another one of their workmates and buddies yielded to the time bomb that the Big C is, especially those friends who have faced it. There will likewise, be those who feel that my sickness and the remedies I had to take were a matter of bad corporate timing. Inasmuch as I could not help the day and the manner in which this visited me, I suppose they cannot help their responses to my experience or the decisions I had to make. I alone am answerable as caretaker of my body, and other than for me, only Brenda faces the implications of suffering with the frailties of my ageing.
But having dodged the bullet, I will be greedy, and ask that He speed up the healing in my eardrums. I want to be up in the air as soon as He can allow it.