Previously… I was scheduled for surgery in late Saturday to remove a perforated appendix. The lady anaesthetist made sure I could count to 10… which I recall only counting up to 3, before I was away with the fairies.

I was zonked out until someone had called upon my name. One of the nurses had called me by name. I was afraid to open my eyes at this point. My body felt like being awakened from a frozen carbon chamber. I sounded groggy through my Darth Vadar oxygen mask and I am most certain I was high as a kite with the long duration of general anaesthetic.

I heard and recognised the familiar voices of my parents who had gathered by my bedside. I convinced myself to jar open one of my eyes and noticed the vague shadows at the bottom of the bed. I opened my eyes wider and saw Dr K was talking to my parents and mentioned that it was a successful surgery, which is also very assuring to hear as a patient. I recognised that I was in a different room and not the single room in Ward 4. I noticed a large desk reception opposite of me.

A nurse had given me a switch which she slipped inside my hand. The switch resembled a pen-like clicker used to change slides of a keynote presentation. The nurse shared with me the instruction to activate the pain relief mechanism using the clicker. My body was still processing the sounds and surroundings at this point. She covered her hand over my fingers over the trigger – and together, with the assistance from the nurse, I activated the first dose of morphine. With my brain finally catching up with my body, I treated the trigger switch like a clicky ballpoint pen. I think my Mum’s immediate response was ‘Jeezo!’, only for the nurses and Dr K to assure her that the next dose only kicks in after the current dose had ended.

My parents departed the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) after exchanging handshakes with Dr K. I think I muttered a vague thanks to Dr K, but my body was so exhausted that I thought I would just attempt to sleep and gain some energy for the next day.

I remember waking up during the night. Like every other ward, it is very busy with static electricity, mechanical ventilators and pumps, and the orchestral beeps and boops from medical monitors. And yet, there was something different about the ICU. All I can say is that the level of care is very tenderly in the ICU. I noticed nurses attending another patient a few beds to my left and I later noticed another nurse attending to me during the night to change my IV drips when my monitoring machine signalled a sequence of beeps. I slept some extra winks to try to get ahead of the curve.

The next morning, I noticed a new nurse sat at the foot of my bed. She was recording my stats and greeted me when I woke up. I inspected the machines around me and looked at the cabling attached to my body. Aside from the Darth Vadar oxygen mask, there were multiple cardiac monitoring cables across my chest and side abdomen. I also noticed a lot more IV drips and a catheter tube.

I soon noticed a few elephants in the room. I realised the scale of my post-op when I witnessed the oversized bandage that covered my front stomach. My mummified stomach felt tight and warm. It looked like I was auditioning John Hurt’s character from the Alien movie.

I also experienced a sore throat near my Adam’s apple. It was tender to touch. I later learned that during surgery, the medical team sprayed something that made the uvula shrink in my mouth, so they could perform intubation during surgery. The uvula looks like a boxing speedball inside your mouth.

“Intubation is the process of inserting a tube, called an endotracheal tube (ET), through the mouth and then into the airway. This is done so that a patient can be placed on a ventilator to assist with breathing during anaesthesia, sedation, or severe illness. The tube is then connected to a ventilator, which pushes air into the lungs to deliver a breath to the patient.”

Source: https://www.verywellhealth.com/what-is-intubation-and-why-is-it-done-3157102

By the grace of God, the LORD answered everyone’s intercessory prayer for me, and that was to see through a successful operation. Little did I know that I would embark on a new and challenging journey of recovery – riddled with medical complications. As I was accepting my new reality, I would also endure the pain of being alive.

~Richard

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