Sunflowers (F456), Vincent van Gogh

Sunflowers (F456), Vincent van Gogh

I woke up at 7 a.m. I was joking with my parents about not doing the surgery. I'm totally fine now. There's nothing wrong with me. Humor is my coping mechanism.

My dad gave us a ride to Midvalley, a mall that I frequent with my mom to do some work. My sister works in the office buildings beside it, and the hospital just so happens to be beside it too. My dad took a picture of us, my sister had a small luggage with her. It felt like we were at the airport being sent off.

We went up the 7th floor and were welcomed by the words "iHEAL Medical Center", in dark purple, pasted neatly on the ceramic wall. I reached the main entrance of the hospital 8:19 a.m.

After registering, and paying a hefty deposit of 20k, I was directed to my room.

I was admitted to Room 3, they named it Sunflower. I'm reminded of Van Gogh's painting.

I changed into the hospital gown and went outside to do an ultrasound to check if there's any complications for safety measures. While I was outside waiting, I noticed people were looking at me. Or maybe I was just being self-conscious, projecting my own ideas of insecurity about being young and sick. I wondered what goes through their mind when they see me. Could it be "What disease does he have at such a young age that poor thing". I took some measurements on this fancy machine. My weight increased a little to 52.9 kg. I'm going to lose more after this surgery. My target weight, according to the machine is 61 kg. Let's see if I can reach that by summer.

The lady doing my ultrasound asked what was wrong with me, and whether I was getting acid reflux frequently. She talked about how how no one can really comprehend the pain I feel, it's like being stabbed right at your lower left rib, I felt understood.

A nurse took some blood for some tests. Four needles went into my arms in total, one for blood. One failed, one came off because I was sleeping on my arm and the needle bent, And the last one on my right hand for the IV drips and pain medicine.

I started sketching and asked my mom to tell me about her younger days. She talked about how her family was really poor in the forest, and she ate 8 different kinds of animals/reptiles. She almost died twice when she was young. Her brother drowned in an ocean. Her father treated her the best in the family since she was the youngest, his dream was for one his children to graduate from overseas, and my mother was the one. He always made sure she had enough money, giving everything he had to his youngest daughter.

After waiting for hours, I started reading The Bridge of San Luis Rey, after a chapter, I fell asleep. I was half-awake, resting my eyes, mentally preparing myself for what's to come. Every footstep outside my room felt like it was for me, but it was a false alarm.

My surgeon came in at one point telling me what the process will be like. I asked him for more details about the surgery. I'm in good hands.

Two nurses came in at 1 p.m. to brief me about more details. They reassured me there won't be any pain, only bloating. I'm writing this post-op, and I'm very much in pain. Either they lied or I'm just weak.

It wasn't until 3 p.m. when the time came.

I was wheeled from room to room, and finally arrived at the operation theatre, bright and cold. I was really curious, observing avery part of the room, noticing every instrument and screen in my vicinity. The nurse asked if it was like in the movies, and I said it's brighter than I thought.

I moved to the operation bed, and they put a heated blanket. It felt nice. One of the nurses started conversing with me. I told her about my studies in the US, she shared about her son who has been in London the past 6 years, about his 700 pound/week rent, and his application for a masters in USC. We shared the same concerns towards the cost of US education, and how she cannot retire yet. I say my dad is in the same situation too. The anaesthesia went in my bloodstream. I later found out this was Bridion (sugammadex sodium), and it costs RM600.

I woke up confused and in excruciating pain around 5 p.m., I couldn't breathe without my shoulders screaming and burning. I thought it was heartburn but the surgeon later told me it's because my diaphragm is swollen, and that pain travels up to the shoulders. They injected painkillers and I slept, half-awake until 6 p.m.

Breathing was difficult the whole night. That made talking hard. My stomach felt like a balloon ready to burst. I've never been more uncomfortable in my life. My stomach was disapproving of everything I was trying to swallow. In every swallow, something was trying to bubble up and escape. I remember standing up to walk, and not after a few steps around the room I promptly sat back down, and started to sweat profusely.

I was sulking a lot. I didn't want to go through this. I felt no gratitude. All I could think about was how long I have to suffer with this before I actually reap the benefits of this expensive and inconvenient surgery. I'm giving up an entire month. I was stressed about the interview assignment I have due soon.

The surgeon came in and told me everything went very well. He assured me that what I was feeling was normal, and that he'll see me the next morning.

My sister came around 8 p.m. from work. She looked exhausted. She's keeping me company for the night. My mom is turning 60 this year, and I'm here in a hospital bed requiring her care. She's been caring for me since I've been back. My sister said it's better to have kids early. I feel like a burden, a mixed bag of emotions involving guilt, shame, vulnerability, frustration, and gratitude with sadness. My mom left at 9 p.m.

I could only take sips of soy milk that night, and I didn't eat anything else. I finished Arrietty on the TV and an episode of Friends. I could not stay awake any longer.

I managed to sleep at 10 p.m. with relaxing sleep music playing on the tv.