Monday, October 22, 2012

My Hospital Experience - Masked Figures Wearing Military Green

Now here it is, for those who have not been under the round shadow-less lights, lying supine for your surgeon to poke their sharp blades into your innards. Not for the queasy, I warn you. 

First, when you are admitted for surgery they do a plethora of tests: Xrays, blood test (oh! the blood suckers with their metal pincers!), sonography, and umpteen other tests you lose count of. How can you remember everything when you have been reduced to a piece of meat by these nurses, doctors and ward boys. One of my worst nightmares was when the ward boy came to shave me. Shave? I don't need a shave. "No your abdomen, including, um, private parts, and thighs have to be shaved. Shock. I am not going to allow it, I say. "Better do, doctor only suggested it." I scream bloody horror and ask for the nurse. The cute girl from Kerala (her first job) says it has to be done for every surgery. Can't they do without it in my case? No. So I endure this very ticklish issue, though my body revolted at it. What a job the ward boy has, isn't he offended by the sight of unsighly naked flesh? Who would do such a job.

Then I am taken to the operation theatre as a lamb to slaughter wearing a long tunic and nothing else. I haven't had anything to eat or drink, not even water. The first sight of the theatre intimidates with its giant lights, the round orbs like some futuristic dinosaur waiting to devour. Then I am made to lie down on a narrow bed, extend my arms. They, mysterious masked figures wearing dark-green military-fatigue-like shrouds connect me to all sorts of tubes while I stare at the light overhead. Then the friendly surgeon appears and asks me how I am. I say, in my most cheerful voice, which is now a croak, I am okay. He explains the procedure which makes me nearly panic and get up and run. He smiles and assures me there is nothing to worry and that he has done hundreds of such surgeries. So, I trust him.

Then a chirpy lady, the anaesthetist, comes and tells me that she will administer an injection, "two pin pricks" which will freeze me from waist down. I feel these pin pricks, and by now can't do anything, as I am a mere piece of meat to them. Of course, I would have presented a funny picture lying there supine, arms spread out, naked, while the machines beeped and burred. "There is this device that measures your blood pressure that will tighten every five minutes. It won't make you uncomfortable no?" She says. No, I manage to croak. I calibrate the progress with this machine. I divide the one hour of surgery by how many times the machine's tube tightens itself around my arm. Twelve five-hour contractions, i.e., one hour, and I am done. Not a big deal.

Then I find that my entire bottom part, waist down, is numb and dismiss the prospect of getting up and bolting as a distant possibility, only to be attempted if an earthquake or nuclear war strikes. Then the chirpy lady covers my eyes and I can only hear them talking about their last vacation in Kerala and some other technical mumbo-jumbo. I can feel the pressure of the doctor's hands on my stomach. I desperately count the contractions of the blood pressure monitor, five, six, and only six more to go. Then eight, nine, ten, eleven and twelve.

Then I can feel his hands stitch me up and a sigh escapes my lips. I have lived through it to tell my tale. It's a tale of valour and courage on my part. Well done! 

"Have you been to Kerala?" the surgeon asks.

"Doctor I am from Kerala, a true-blue Mallu, who loves his fish curry" I say.

"Oh, I could guess as much from your calm. Your blood pressure was constant throughout."

"Yeah, we are a very calm people. Sort of...." He didn't get my sarcasm.

I don't tell him about the instinct I had to get up and bolt. No, that would shock him. They uncover my eyes as the dressing is put on and the necessary injection of pain-killers given. I don't feel much pain, only a vague heaviness around the stomach, and my legs feel like it belongs to some other hairy animal. 

"You can move your legs in one hour, don't worry. You shouldn't get out of bed for one day. Only liquid food should be eaten." The doctor says. 

Oh God! I didn't know it was so complicated. However, there were no earthquakes or nuclear strikes. I am safe. I remember the days when I was looking after my dad in hospital. These sort of instructions were given then too. How the years have passed and I am a patient now and my son is looking after me. It's nearly a decade since the time I spent anxious hours by my dad's bed. I remember feeling sad, loney and bereft. None of my four siblings came to help me look after my dad. The nurses were blase and careless newcomers who had paid the hospital to learn nursing and were fulfilling the cumpulsory service they were required to do. 

I was lucky to get a good and cheerful doctor to whom I am grateful. I was not made to feel like a helpless victim, His good cheer made me feel good and saw me through my recovery. Now here I am fully recovering and marching towards full rejuvenation. Thanks be to God! 

Life is but a transient journey in which we all are a mere breaths of wind. Here today gone tomorrow. If you are reading this, dear reader, you might have a similar experience some time in life. When you do, be courageous, fill your mind with good thoughts and treat your doctor as your friend who wants to do good things to you and wishes you well. That's half the job done.

John is @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. He blogs here. His Youtube Channel Page. His novel Mr. Bandookwala, M.B.A., Harvard.

No comments: