The Account

0630 hrs, Monday
Reported at admission, Royal Perth Hospital, with a lucky angbao given by a friend in my pocket.

0650 hrs, Monday
Was called to the counter, thanked for my patience, apologised to for the delay. Checked again with the lady if there was any payment whatsoever I needed to do for this surgery and my probable hospitalisation. She gave a firm confirmation everything would be covered under Medicare and there would be no out of pocket expenses.

0700 hrs, Monday
Was one of the three called out by an elderly guy and was asked to follow him. We were led a level up and across a bridge painted with colours to another department. Everyone was allocated a cushy chair with a number on it. 

0720 hrs, Monday
Before long, a nurse attended to me did a huge pile of paper work for me in an interview style. I didn't have to touch the pen the entire time, not even a signature because that was already done at the pre-admission. As the nurse was so familiar with the paperwork, it was a breeze. Once the chore was over, she handed me the standard sexy gown every patient had to wear, with a kinky disposable underwear no less and got me to put the rest of my belongings in a designated bag. I was told that bag would land up in the drawer besides my bed in the ward that I would end up after the operation.

0800 hrs, Monday
The waiting game began. I was told I was the third on the list that morning. I nodded in acknowledgement. My mobile phone was almost depleted for answering questions from friends in Singapore, especially my bored neighbours at work on a Monday morning, looking forward to the Labour Day public holiday a couple of days later.

1000 hrs, Monday
I was called by the same nurse to get on to the bed in the same waiting room. Once done, a hospital hand appeared and was instructed to take me where I should be going. I couldn't remember where I went though I remembered crossing the colourful bridge again. I really felt like a patient that time. The first time in life I realised I was in real trouble, being in those scenes in Chinese dramas in the 80s. Only thing was that no there wasn't 5 other people sprinting along with the hospital hand in those scenes.

1010 hrs, Monday
I was given a 'window bed' in yet another waiting room. It was a nice feeling being near the window. I didn't know where I was but I saw a Western Power building outside. I couldn't help but realise how Perth City seemed alien to me, the way Singapore's 'town' was to me. It was a habitual thing to avoid the city I guessed. That would probably be something I would carry with me no matter where I go. My identity was tripled checked by at least 2 or more staff from different departments. I was told I would be the next to go under the knife so it wouldn't be long.

1030 hrs, Monday
Interestingly the room was filled with posters unprofessionally pinned on the ceiling boards. It must be the staff's idea of killing the boredom of the waiting patients. Unfortunately they were not exciting pictures. I remembered a couple, a picture of the London bridge and Caversham Wildlife Park. After 5 minutes, the posters outlived their usefulness. I began to observe everything from gloomy patients, medical staff joking non-stop nearby, medical equipment and hurried staff near the door, buzzing with activities.

1100 hrs, Monday
The anesthetic guy came back and said I must have thought they forgotten about me. In fact the guy before me were having problems with his stones eliminated by laser so that took longer than planned but it was be over soon.

1130 hrs, Monday
The action began. I was pushed through corridors again into a sombre room. That was that. I began to feel nervous for the first time. 6-7 medical serious looking medical staff began to work on me, sticking things, checking blood pressure and what not. Unfortunately the anestheic guy was as nervous as me. He tried to look confident but I knew he was bullshit as after he missed his target twice. The second one was unforgivable because that position was 'well seasoned' after my 50 odd times of blood donation. The drip ended up at the front of right elbow. I couldn't even remember getting drowsy and eventually to sleep. It was as if a few hours of my life was taken away from me. That was why so many people have fear for surgery I supposed, leaving your life entirely in the hand of strangers who have seen death so many times that they have developed immunity. And you are just another number.

1400 hrs, Monday
I must be asleep way after the operation. When I woke, I felt a distinct discomfort at the one of the man's most vulnerable organ. I reached down and felt the catheter attached to it and whispered, "Damn." I took hours to come to terms with my new temporary organ. Discomfort was a weak word to use here, as sensation was quite difficult to describe that it would take me more energy I could muster for a satisfactory attempt. I was encouraged to drink as much water as I could and I tried to. I couldn't feel my urine passing out the same way because it simply flowed through the catheter into the external bag. Occasionally I would feel short, electric shocks-like sensations on my urine tract. I gathered it could be my urine flowing through. 

I lost track of time. I was so drowsy all the time and simple had nothing to think of but coping with the strange artifact attached to my urethras because I had to live with it for many more hours that I preferred.

I caught the moment when Jen and Albany appeared from the doorway. Albany's eyes sparkled, pointed to me with her short fingers and said, "Deh deh." I felt homesick immediately but I knew home wasn't a good place for me at that moment. I thought I fell asleep multiple times and hardly remembered communicating more than a few lines with Jen. I could only recall saying, "Watch her," after I saw Albany walking around the place greeting other patients with her innocence. It seemed soon Jen, Albany and Grace bided me goodbye but I knew hours would have gone by.

2000 hrs, Monday
"Did you eat?" Someone called out to me. I shook my head, still groggy. "Ah, they saw you sleeping and didn't give you food." Then she disappeared and returned shortly with a tray of food. I thanked her and feasted awkwardly supporting my body with the elbow with my drip. Before the guy on the opposite bed called out to the nurse to help adjust the angle of my bed as the controls were placed beyond reach, I had already finished my meal. The remote control was brought within range.

There were two nurses attending to me. One registered nurse in blue, a beautiful European looking girl in her late 20s with redish gold hair. She didn't have an Aussie accent so I was sure she wasn't born here. I didn't know her name because there wasn't a name tag on her uniform. The other nurse was in white. A student-nurse from Curtin University, but she was surprisingly competent. Her name was Shirleen and she looked and sound VERY Singaporean. She probably knew or suspect I was Singaporean as well and communicate to me with twinkles in her eyes. I couldn't help but recall an important discussion with Tucky, my old buddy in Singapore about getting treated in Singapore vs Perth. His replied was simple and curt, "You wan your kkj handled by Pinoy or Blonde?"

0600 hrs, Tuesday
Unfortunately, in the end no blonde or Singaporean handled that. Their shift was handed over to a night nurse from either India or Sri Lanka. She went through her duties mechanically as if she was dealing with machines. Left the curtain screens wide open whenever she came in, I couldn't sleep with lights on. Sigh. She was pretty rough when she took blood pressure and I wasn't looking forward to her removing my catheter for me.

I was right. She was rough and ruffled around with the tubes and pee-bag. I could feel a lot of those 'electric shocks' as she rummaged around. I wanted to ask her what was the hurry but decided not to say a word. Wise men shouldn't. Before long she was ready and told me to take a deep breathe...

I didn't make a single sound during the torture but I tell you, I wouldn't wish upon even on my enemies to suffer a catheter removal procedure. I spent the next 10 minutes completely motionless to come to terms with the pain in the depths of my urinal tract. In fact, I suffered a little trauma with flashes of that split second ordeal for much of the following day. I couldn't help but wondered why CIA or FBI spent so much money on lie-detactors or interrogation methods where there is a cheap and effective way to get a man to spill the beans clean after just one or two times of 'cleaning of the barrel' at most.

Before I could get out of my shock, I overheard the nurse moving to the next bed to perform the same ritual to the chap. The steps were exactly the same. I could heard the guy chatter a little, probably in excitement at the thought of removal the offensive equipment from his wee wee. When I overheard, "Take a deep breathe," I took a deep breathe for him too.

"AWWWW, fucking SHIT!" the poor chap wailed out and woke the whole room of patients. "Ahhhhhh......" he groaned. I could picture him slowly relaxing all his tensed muscles then. I chuckled quietly. I started to flex my own urinal muscles a bit. Despite the raw obvious pain, it felt liberating. I could move my legs without the electrifying sensations. I melted back into bed in relief, I could smell breakfast.

0730 hrs, Tuesday
I had breakfast. It was good. The two pretty nurses came back to the shift, greeted me and brought me news. All they needed from me was 3 pees that passed their requirements and I would be free to go! I started to load up on water but I wasn't looking forward to the first pee at all.

0800 hrs, Tuesday
I stood up from the bed for the first time. I felt very unsteady. The effects of anestic and being in bed for more almost 24 hours. I expected a little disaster but not quite the way it happened. Blood began to drip from my wee wee uncontrollably. Before I could react, I had more than 10 spots of fresh blood on the floor. Damn it. I danced around the spots and reached out for the urinal pot and began to pee, blood and all, pain and all.

Ouch. I couldn't remember my urine flow being fast and strong for a while now. I was slowing down the flow instinctively because the stream felt like bolts of lightning jumping through the urinal tract. I finished with a blood red pot to hand over to Shirleen. The redish gold haired girl came in shortly and saw the mess I created on the floor. She looked disturbed so I knew it was unusual. I also took a peek at the pot that the guy next bed submitted. It was a pale red. He wasn't bleeding much.

I remember Grace dropping by earlier on to tell me my recovery was near miracle in her eyes because for her years of experience, she had never seen a pee bag so clear before. So she concluded that my surgery was totally spot on and well done. My new wounds must have been incurred during the extraction of the catheter.

I passed the first pee with a residual urine of 60cc. Not ideal I would say but you wouldn't think of acing tests in times like that. The second pee was similar, with less blood and I avoided making a mess on the floor this time. I clocked 65cc of residual urine. Hmm, getting worse, buddy. I drank a lot of water for the third one. I wanted to flush as much blood out as I could and also test my bladder to see how it was working. There was a rather long break between the third pee and my scan, Shirleen was puzzled as she did the ultrasound on my bladder. She giggled a bit and said, "Er, that was 330cc left in there." 

Hmmm... before long Red-goldie was informed and she popped by and told me that was a crappy attempt so I would need to do better to pass. I told her I would try again immediately. It took me a few attempts to empty my bladder completely. I cheated a bit by looking at the measuring mark of the urinal pot. Despite my attempts, I couldn't get the urine pass the 310cc mark and I called it a day.

I had a few nervous seconds watching Shirleen's poker face as she probed around my bladder. "Are you taking averages on something?" I asked. Shirleen smiled and explained, "No, every point is a reading itself. I just needed confirmation." 

"So, how am I doing?" 

"Not bad, 37cc remaining." Shirleen was pleased. I was pleased. 

It was time to wash up and go home. I walked to the toilet shakily to brush my teeth and wash up. Red-goldie removed the last needle on my body and told me I could get dressed and wait for my medication.

1030 hrs, Tuesday
I met her at the discharge counter. She did everything for me, my medication, scans, MC, follow up appointments all in one bag (no bills felt really good) and gave me one last smile before I staggered out. I regretted not thanking her for taking good care of me. I didn't even have a name to send a thank you card to. All I had in mind then was to get out, it felt like a prisoner set free. 

1100hrs, Tuesday
Home sweet home. The car ride wasn't pleasant. I felt some pain and slight bouts of neaous. I reckoned I shouldn't sit and compress my bladder too much at this stage. So it would be standing or sleeping most of the time for the next couple of days.

I want to send a thank you card to all the team who took care of me, yes including the nurse who was a little rough. I do not know whether that was world class or not. I felt cared and in safe hands all the time. I can't be anymore grateful to the staff of Royal Perth Hospital. Let me work on the letter tonight.

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