13 Hours Later

25 June 2010: 10pm (thereabouts)

It’s the “deet, deet, deet” of my own heartbeat on the monitor that wakes me up.

I’ve been here before: three C-sections and thrice in the post-op waiting area. Except this time I have no baby to show for my time in the OT.

The first sensation is the horrible, horrible backache that comes in waves like a pinch that won’t let go. My eyelids flutter open and I see two nurses in masks checking their clipboards like they were traders and the floor had just opened.

“Back… pain.”

They look up at me. The China nurse pecks at me with her staccato English – possibly the most annoying sound in the world after Kenny G – “No! You cannot move. Doctor see you later.”

I don’t feel any other pain, just the backache, that suan feeling, like rheumatism at its worst. My buttocks feel numb. I am resting on the right one.

Seeing that I am going to get no help, I slowly slip one hand under my butt and lift myself up. I position my left buttock to take my weight, and that relieves the backache for a few welcome seconds.

I guess they are waiting for me to stabilise before bringing me back to my room. I tell myself they are not ignoring me on purpose, though they seem to be. I try to peek down at my gown – I see bloodstains on the blue gown cover my right chest.

Looks like I’ve had the whole shebang. The lumpectomy didn’t happen.

Still, I am thankful to be alive, and to be out of surgery. I wonder when I can see my husband. I creak my neck around to look for a clock but cannot find one.

After what seems like an hour, a nurse releases the lock on the wheels of my gurney and tells me “Okay, Theresa, we are going back to the ward okay?”

Familiar voices tickle my ear drums as the lift door opens and I am wheeled back to my room. I hear my husband’s voice – and my daughter’s.

The nurses who wheel me back to my room chuckle. “Theresa! Do you know how long you’ve been in surgery?” I shake my head – and regret it. Feels like an ocean between my ears. “13 hours! What were you doing in there?! Your children have been waiting for you for a long time!”

Husband’s face appears before me — it’s the most beautiful vision ever. He kisses my forehead. “You did good! You’re the champ! You were in there longer than me during my brain surgery!”

I know I am smiling weakly. Throat is so dry.

“The kids are here.”

I look to my right and there are my precious Big B and Middle B. I look up at the clock – gosh, it’s 11pm! My Little B is all tucked up in bed… I miss her.

Middle B holds my hand and asks me how I feel. Big B gives me his best grin. I feel my heart fill with love and gratitude that I get to see my gorgeous offspring! God is good!

Middle B’s eyes are wild with emotion but she can’t get the words out. Instead, she focuses on the small details. “Why is there blood on your gown?”

“That’s where the doctor operated, darling,” I whispered hoarsely.

After five minutes, their daddy rounds them up to bring them home. My father and mother-in-law pop their heads in — I’ve never been so happy to see them.

“You all right?”

I nod with a wry smile. At least, I think I managed a wry smile.

My head feels like a 10-ton water bed. My eyelids feel like titanium plates being held up by wood skewers.

“Sleep, my love,” said my husband. “I’ll see you in the morning.”

It must have been the combination of the GA and the painkillers, but all I want to do is sleep. I say “Thank you Lord”, and I pass out.

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