It doesn't matter where I am, who I'm with (if at all I'm with anyone), and what I'm doing (if at all I'm doing anything haha).
Life itself finds a way to make it memorable.
Last August 23, my mother-in-law and I accompanied my wife at the United Doctors Medical Center (UDMC) for her scheduled combined hysteroscopy and laparoscopy (CHL) on the morning of 24th.
The pre-operation procedure itself was already agonizing, particularly the enema. It would probably have been a bit tolerable had it not been for the IV drip that made movement so difficult -- but I guess it's the only way to keep the patient hydrated during the entire procedure.
When they wheeled her in the operating room at 8:30 AM of August 24, I was already briefed with the possibilities, and the scenarios where the doctor may summon me for my consent.
Three hours into the operation, the phone rang and I was summoned to the operating room. I was made to wear the complete surgical garb, and was welcomed by our doctor and five other members of her team at the operating table.
Joan was not visible under the green sheets. The doctor called my attention to a 30-inch screen showing a very clear live video of what the laparoscopic machine is seeing inside my wife.
Everything looked bloody, and I initially had no idea what I was looking at.
The doctor walked me through the procedure she has done so far, identifying the organs as she expertly poked them with the mechanical probes. She was able to address the cyst, and has done considerable work freeing the uterus and the bowels from adhesions.
She pointed to a group of organs that looked as if untouched. She identified the shiny, elastic flesh as the right fallopian tube, and the whitish lump next to it as the right ovary. I was glad to hear they are in good health.
With a few moves with the probes and adjustments in the camera, she then showed me the left fallopian tube.
All I said was "Oh my God..."
I couldn't take my eyes off the grotesque, bloody, discolored lump of flesh, swollen to over ten times its original size -- and it was getting so hard for me to hold back the tears.
The doctor described the status, and we agreed that it had to be removed.
Another two hours passed before I was summoned back to the OR. The doctor has already changed back to street clothes, and showed me the fallopian tube that was removed. It's as big as my pinky, only it looked like a misshaped longanisa.
An hour later, Joan was brought to the recovery room, shivering and crying. She was complaining about the cold, despite efforts of the nurses and doctors to turn off the aircon and warm her with an incandescent bulb.
Never had I felt so crushed. At that moment, I knew finally without a doubt what my weakest spot is.
Cheers to the nurses and doctors for keeping their cool even if my glares are getting a tad too murderous while I kept urging them to do something to ease her pains. In the end, they have to calmly ask me to wait at the room.
It was already past 7:00 PM when she was brought to the room.
Her first visitors, her relatives who live next to our house, came the next day.
On the morning of 26th, we received a text message that spurred Joan to have the catheter and IV drip removed: her boss and officemates are dropping by to visit by lunchtime.
Joan willed herself to wellness because of that -- she will never allow her officemates (and boss nyahaha) see her in such a weakened state. She succeeded in controlling her fevers and erratic bowel movements by the time her colleagues arrived.
Two more friends dropped by that evening.
We left the hospital in the afternoon of August 27.
Yesterday, on my birthday, we watched Cars 2 at Glorietta.
We walked a bit slower than usual, and had to be careful with what we eat, but it was my happiest birthday yet. ^^
Thank you, Lord, for this gift.
UDMC is an old institution better known for its cutting-edge technology in the field of laparoscopic surgery. We only have thumbs up for the excellent jobs of its doctors and nurses.
However, a downside of being in a hospital that is affiliated with a medical school (Southeast Asian College) is that you get subjected to the medical and nursing students -- and the not-so-impressive skills of some.
Three nursing students in particular stood out in terms of utter lack of bedside manners. Several times everyday for two days, we experienced what I dubbed as "The Terrible Trio".
They do not greet us when they enter the room. They do not introduce themselves and state their business until you ask them (creepy, really). They just slap the sphygmomanometer strap in Joan's arm and poke the thermometer under her arm pit without asking for her permission. They do not inform you of their readings (temperature and blood pressure) if you do not ask them. At some point, only one of them had a wristwatch.
And at all times, all of them wore makeup.
I pray to heavens that somehow these trio, all graduating on year 2012, develop some bedside manners soon.
Since I never post my birthday in any social networking site, it is easy to monitor the greetings I get.
The first greeting came a day early, but already it has a "belated" in it. ^^ A friend from Indonesia thought she missed my birthday. Hee hee thanks Lola!
The second came from Joan, as we woke up on the 29th.
The third came from a long-lost friend via email. Thank you, I. ^^
The fourth was a text message from my brother, and the fifth a phone call/song from my mother while we were driving to Glorietta.
On August 30, a former officemate posted a birthday app on my fezbook wall.
Shortly after that, my sister in UK greeted me through PM in fezbook.
Cheers to 36!
My prayers that everyone in the path of Hurricane Irene be safe.