Lorelle Tells It All
I am taking a new approach to posting entries from now on. From today I will be stating the things that inspired me in writing a corresponding entry, and reveals its intention when needed.
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With a solemn prayer
“God, please let me wake up
to this same room.”
I was putting my bag filled with shirts and shorts into the closet of my hospital room around 7:00 o'clock in the evening of May 6, 2009, when the door opened and a nurse with her brown wooden clipboard emerged from the hall.
"Good evening," she smiled as she greeted me. She looked around and saw no one else. My parents, my father’s colleague and his wife who was a former practicing nurse on that same hospital and the same person who referred me to the surgeon, who all went to the hospital with me, were having early dinner that time when the nurse came in. Her eyes went back to me and said, "Are you the patient?"
After I got the results of the preliminary tests on my blood, chest, and heart (must be that my surgeon needed to confirm that the rupture had not caused complications to my blood and other vital organs), I decided to have myself admitted that same day to the hospital, under my specialist surgeon’s advice that it would be much better to undergo operation the soonest time. He told me a day before not to worry about the wound, he assured me that it wouldn't be necessary to incise a bigger entry point on my navel based on his findings during the physical examination, and on the test results from the first hospital I had visited. I endured the not-so-intense-anymore pain and was able to walk without wincing, probably because of the antibiotics I've orally taken prior to seeing him and, as what he had explained, my immune system was strong enough to counter the infection and the rupture was also contained by the epithelia. That, I’ve reckoned, made me so lucky.
“Yes,” I nodded as I replied.
She glanced over me before saying, “You are scheduled for an operation tonight at nine, but you will be taken to the operation room by eight. Your surgeon will be attending you right after he finishes operating on another patient.”
I said, “OK”.
Then she told me that the doctor ordered an NPO (Nihil Per Orem), which meant I must not eat or swallow anything including liquids from that point on until further advice. I’ve never eaten a thing since lunchtime.
I was tempted to ask the nurse how many patients were being operated on by the surgeon for the day. I have this fear that I found hard to suppress, such fear that although the surgery would be minor, unperceived or unexpected factors resulting to malpractice or failure are just lurking around even for the most experienced doctor. And I was thinking, what if the doctor was too worn out for the night’s schedule? What if the anesthesiologist would miscalculate the dosage? Questions that might sound silly to a certain degree or situation but still rational and valid. What if? Despite writing a poem filled with optimism, I found it hard to dodge from my pessimistic fear now that I was facing it.
To tell you honestly, from the time I knew I needed operation up to the very moment I waited for it in my hospital room, I was diverting myself and my mind to something else so I wouldn’t worry about the surgery. Things like reading a novel I’ve already read, tuning on the TV, browsing the internet, and sending sms to friends. And most of the time I succeeded. Now, lying on the bed with printed bed sheets as I watched Discovery Channel, my mind came back to reality. It all went back to me. The anxiety, the worry, the fear. The silly thoughts.
Thirty minutes to eight, the same nurse appeared carrying a plastic filled with tubes and IV bags.
“Sir, I will be administering this now to you. In a while we will be giving you your first shot of antibiotics, but first we need to perform a skin test. You are not still allowed to eat or drink anything.”
Her second line boggled me. “Skin test?” I frowned.
“It’s a standard procedure to find out whether or not you will develop any allergic reactions to the medicine,” she explained clearly. The antibiotic she was referring to would later be injected to me through the IV tube once a day. And it cost around $50 per vial (injected once).
Fifteen minutes after the nurse disappeared behind the door, a team of nursing students with their instructor marched into my room followed by the entourage of my parents and their couple friend, which made me a bit confused and nervous. I don’t really feel comfortable being surrounded by interns on their practicum, performing procedures that made me felt like a guinea pig in the laboratory. The male student conducted the skin test on me, and I winced to the terrible pain. The female student handed me the surgery gown and told me to take off all of my clothes. I waited for them to all go out before stripping off.
A few minutes after eight, a stretcher was wheeled into my room by two male nurses accompanied by the same nurse who came first to see me. She instructed me to lie on the stretcher while she transferred the IV bag from above my bed unto the hook rod protruding from the stretcher. Just when I was wheeled out of the room into the hallway, my father tapped his right hand on my shoulder to loosen and comfort me and told me it’s just a minor and everything would be just fine. I didn’t see my mother’s face, perhaps because I was so distracted by my own thoughts and fears and worries.
As they rolled me down the hallway, my eyes were blankly transfixed at the white ceiling, mumbling silent prayers, hoping that what the surgeon had told me was right, that my phlegmonous appendicitis had not spread into my other organs and that the operation would not be complicated and would only need small incision. I prayed as they stopped pushing and pulling the mobile bed I was lying on, and I prayed as the nurse injected the first shot of antibiotic through the IV tube. The nurse asked me if I felt scared, which I found myself unable to answer. I just smiled at her and listened as she told me that my hand was cold. I didn’t noticed how cold my hands were the same way I didn’t feel if my heart was throbbing fast. I was still staring at the ceiling, familiarizing myself to the hospital hallway.
When we arrived to a hallway right before the sterile room, they transferred me to yet another stretcher, made me wait for I didn’t know how many minutes, giving me yet another time to stare and remember the pinhole design of the white ceiling. A young man in blue, collared shirt and white pants, whom I presumed was another intern, even passed by me and said good luck. I didn't know exactly what to say in that moment, so I just gave him a faint smile.
The nurse relayed to another nurse in green surgery uniform the details pertaining to my records and medical specifics, before I was wheeled into the sterile room, past a huge, bright room and into Room 8, where the huge octopus surgery lamp attached to the ceiling and wires and a narrow bed with straps waited for my arrival. As we passed by the big room, I saw a sole patient there sleeping soundlessly the pain away.
Noticing my head turned to my right to see the sleeping patient, the woman in mask and green who wheeled me in quietly said, “That’s the Recovery Room. That’s where you will stay for another 2 to 3 hours after the surgery.”
I looked away.
Inside Room 8, monitors were turned on and wires were attached somewhere in my chest, one clipped to my left thumb, and an automatic sphygmomanometer strapped around my right upper arm that monitored my blood pressure every 15 minutes, according to the surgery nurse in green. She told me that my surgeon and his team will attend to me right after they were done operating another patient. Seconds ticked into minutes, which later became an hour and a few minutes. The room was very quiet except for the beeping of the machine that monitored my heartbeat. I felt tired and sleepy. And at times my eyes were tempted to sleep, but I refused to. I didn’t want to. I should wait first for my doctor to come in.
I stared at the huge surgery lamp overhead that vaguely resembled a star, which was subdivided into five hexagonal groups each containing several white-light bulbs. I stared from time to time at the electrical outlet beside its base, with reasons I didn’t know. I looked around, turned my head from left to right, from the two chatting nurses in green by the table to the big door beside them. The monitor beeped, the A/C hummed, the silence of the room echoed inside my head.
Then my friendly, approachable, composed surgeon came in, smiling as he walked toward me. “How are you feeling?” He asked me, his smile relaxing and assuring. And I found my negative thoughts actually lessened by something in his aura that made me trust his competence and expertise.
“I’m OK, thanks.”
He asked me to pardon him for the delay, and then explained. I told him it’s OK.
The anesthesiologist emerged from behind him and explained what he was going to do to me. When he said he’d give me a dosage that would numb my whole abdomen down my legs and give me something to make me sleep, I felt very, very relieved to perceive that such method would be much more safer than letting anesthesia alone send me to sleep. I’m not really certain though and this is just a hunch, but I have the feeling the latter tend to pose more risk for malpractice. And besides, I’ve watched that recent movie entitled AWAKE, which I wondered if it would ever occur in my case. That, too, I prayed not to happen. Perhaps I’m beginning to develop paranoia by watching too much movies and TV. But gladly, at this point, I was able to dismiss that fear and worry.
He instructed me to curl up, and then injected the dose into my lower spine. Later he pressed a needle’s tip against my belly and asked me if it still hurts. When the drug was in full force, he then put me to sleep with another drug. A minute or two later, I fell asleep.
I woke up to hushed voices or conversations and light clacking of metals. The sight of my chest and all of my lower body was concealed by a cloth hanged on a metal rod shaped similar to a miniature soccer goal. I knew right away where I was, and I knew the surgery was still ongoing. A man in mask glanced at me, disappeared and, moments later, I went back to sleep (or sent back to sleep, I wasn’t sure though).
When i woke up the second time that night, I woke up to a different but familiar room. With still blurry eyes I looked around to see other two awake female patients on transportable beds in my far right. One of them was talking to a nurse, the other one next to her was watching them. At first I didn’t feel anything, but then as things sunk in, I began to feel surging pain down my navel. And it hurt so bad that I called the other attending nurse and asked for a pain reliever. After administering a shot, they told me they were to move me back to my room. I begged them to make me stay for another hour, after the pain became bearable enough for me to leave from their care.
I was brought back to my room at around 2 in the morning, where my parents, my sister and my uncle from a town several kilometers north of the city were waiting. My father’s colleague and his wife weren’t there. Probably had gone home. I slept for another four hours and woke up to the heaving of my wound.
By seven or eight o’clock that morning, I tried and managed myself to roll to my left side as advised by the resident doctor under my surgeon’s team, because the intestines tend to stick to each other if there was less movement of the body. And it would not be a good thing to happen, he informed me. And so I tried, then rolled to another side. And early that afternoon I asked my father to help me get up. Later that afternoon, I was already walking around my bed, holding to its metal rails as I slowly took one pace at a time.
I was admitted to the hospital last Wednesday, May 06. My father’s birthday. And we were supposed to be celebrating as what we had planned weeks ago. Go out to a KTV bar or a beach. But that didn’t happen. Three days later I was discharged under my doctor’s advised and permission. This coming Thursday, hopefully, I will be going back to my doctor’s clinic to have the stitches removed.
NOTE: You might be wondering why the sudden change of plan for the operation. Well, the thing is, we seek for another doctor's expert opinion, which this time came from a gastrointestinal specialist who I found to be more credible and competent; whereas, the first surgeon who advised me to undergo operation four weeks from the day he read the ultrasound result, was a general surgeon. Besides, the first hospital estimated P80,000 of total expenses, and there's a tendency that the incision would be much longer. Whereas, according to the second doctor, the specialist, he estimated around P50,000 and assured me the incision would only be a few inches long, and said it would be best to undergo surgery the soonest time. We visited the specialist the day after we visited the first hospital. And by Wednesday I was scheduled for the operation.
Photograph by Du Truex. Please CLICK HERE to visit the owner's Flickr page. Thanks!