I had a long writer's block and could not bring myself to continue writing here. I am now well, and have already started shooting again since October last year. I wasn't even sure if I should continue writing about my surgery, but I thought the story deserves a closure of sorts. So here goes.
The night before the surgery was rather normal. We had dinner as a family and the kids played for a bit after that. When Georgia got sleepy, Li Ling brought her to the room to send her to sleep. Hannah and I spent some time together. I wish I remembered what we did exactly. I don't.
I showered with her and read to her before bed. She knew I was going for surgery the next day, and that it was a long surgery, and that I was likely going to have my right eye removed which would complete my pirate look, and that she was only going to see me again after two weeks (because public hospitals didn't allow for visitors below 12 years old. Oh darn you, COVID!). We talked about my surgery. She told me to wake her up before I leave the next day. Knowing her, there would definitely have been some hugs and 'I love you's before she finally fell asleep.
After the two kids fell asleep, Li Ling and I spent some time talking at the dining table. We went through the decision we have made, and our expectations from the surgery. I talked about my emotions, and that I was as prepared for the surgery as I could be. As always, talking to her calmed my soul.
Morning came. I had to wake up before sunrise to report at the hospital at 6.30. Li Ling kept me company as I got ready. I was sad that she could not come to see me off at the hospital. There was no way with two small girls in her care. She was sad that she couldn't be there before I enter the OT as well, but we had made our peace with that arrangement about a week before the surgery. Cliche as it sounds, I know she would be there in spirit.
Before I left, Hannah opened her room door. Her eyes were squinting as she walked out to the half lit living room. She had a smile on her face. She was glad that she woke up to wish me good luck and say goodbye to me. I was glad too. Little Georgia was still sleeping. I stood at her room door and watched her for a while, and was reminded of how I used to do the same to Li Ling and Hannah before I went to work in the early morning. This simple act never failed to bring warmth to my soul.
I hugged and kissed Li Ling and Hannah before I stepped out of the door. Their presence and closeness made me calm. As I walked along the corridor, away from our home, it dawned on me that I would return to the house looking significantly different. It shook me a little. Before I turned to the lift landing, I turned around and saw the two of them waving goodbye at me. I waved back and smiled, thankful that I would return home to these three ladies two weeks later.
My brother had driven all the way from Tanah Merah to pick me up. I deeply appreciated this, as I had earlier imagined myself taking the taxi to the hospital, alone, and sobbing quietly as I walked to the hospital ward, alone. I got into his car and was comforted by his presence. We exchanged pleasantries. It must have been difficult of him to find the right words to say. We drove off. I was one step closer to the surgery.
The area where the nurses and doctors prepared me for the surgery was busy. There were six other patients around me. I changed into the hospital gown. It is always horribly cold when you are wearing only the hospital gown. I lay on the bed as teams of surgeons make their rounds to talk to me about what they would be doing. They used markers to draw on my body and face to indicate the places where the incisions would be made. My brother watched from the foot of the bed.
After the doctors were done, my brother asked to say a short prayer for me. He laid his hands on my shoulder and we closed our eyes. Before I was wheeled in, the two of us hugged. Half a year later, my surgeon would tell me that he still remembers the scene where my brother and I were hugging before I went to the OT. I remember it too, strangely as though I was there, out of my body, watching the two of us hugging.
Being wheeled into the OT is an experience in itself. I was on a wheel chair. I had no idea where the OT is and how long the journey might be. Corridors seemed longer and suddenly I realise I'm on my own now.
Two large doors swung open and in front of me was the operation bed. Everything seemed white and steely, except for the blue and green scrubs that the surgeons and nurses wore. They transferred me to the bed, and I asked for a thick blanket. The needle for the anaesthetic went into my vein. I knew that I was going to lose my right eye. I knew it was going to be a long and complicated surgery, but somehow I felt calm. Everything was going to be alright.
The Anaesthetician talked to me and asked for me to take deep breaths.
Breathing in, I know I'm breathing in...
Breathing out, I am calm...
Breathing in, I know I'm breathing in...
Breathing out, all would be well...
Breathing in, I know I'm breathing in....