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  • Nathira Salim

Under the knife once again

For the first time in 41 years I was wheeled into the operating theatre last month. The only time I was ever hospitalised after I was 9 years old was when I delivered my son. And that was like 12 years ago. So its is a big deal for me. I was going under the knife for the first time for a lumpectomy. The cancerous lump on my left breast as well as the supposedly LDH on my right was to be removed in a 4.5hours operation.


Usually I would arm myself with some research on how the surgery is done and so on. But this time I didn't do anything. I just went ahead to pump up my immunity. How I went on about it will be a post for another day.


All I did check out was what I need to prepare for a surgery, what do I bring to the hospital and what will happen post surgery. I know there will be a size reduction, but how much of a reduction it will be was a mystery, I was losing a nipple, so apart from that I was assured there will not be much changes.


I was told that I will just have to stay over night and can go home the following day itself. The only person who can look after me will be my mum, but she herself is not that well. So instead of coming home immediately I intended to stay over for 2 nights, rest as much as I can and then head home.


What I packed:

Ipad and iPhone - fully charged

Mobile bank - 2 fully charged

My spectacles and its box

Change of clothes

Towel and toiletries


Weeks before the surgery, I was given a soap/shampoo bottle and some set of instructions to carry out.


1) The night before surgery - start fasting. No food. Drinking of water allowed

2) Take the pill after dinner. This pill was to reduce bloating or something.

3) Drink a glass of water before leaving home for surgery

4) Shower with the soap/shampoo solution.

5) Take the 2nd and last pill for bloating.

6) Arrive at the Same Day Admission office to start the check in process.


At the Same Day admissions, they began the process of checking me in, getting my signature from the GA doctor, get dressed in surgery clothes (one top that I can tie at my neck and covered with a kimono and hospital soft slippers) and wheeled me into Mammogram office to get wired. After wired up for surgery and wished well by the nurses there, I was wheeled back to the lounge where I left my hubby. Waited for a short while when a Filipino nurse called for me to be ready for the surgery. He looked like Marco - my former colleague and it made me smile. Someone who looks familiar dispelling my fears before I go under the knife.


It was not emotional setting or moment or anything. The nurse wanted me and so I hurriedly hugged hubby and asked him to take rest. He held on to my belongings and kissed me back and told me to stay strong. Nodded. I then followed the nurse into a lift which brought us to another bigger room. It resembled a staging room of some sorts. There were lots of high beds with ladders next to it. The nurse took my kimono, and my slippers. I climbed to the bed and lay there. I was tucked in, railed at my sides and was then wheeled away.


Maybe I was taking it all in. I had my glasses on me all the way to the operating room so I looked up as I was wheeled. Lights in the ceilings whizzing past me. It made me smile again for I thought of my manager Desmond. I saw the walls, the ceilings and then the windows all the way for atleast 5 minutes before I was brought in to the main room. I was then asked to remove my glasses.


It was mechanical and fast - like a supply chain fuelled factory. The staff was ready for me, the room was ready and prepped up for me, The room looked large enough to have 2 surgeries take place side by side. My doctor came up to me and said hi and told me not to worry and asked me if I was fine. I lied. Then I moved to the operating bed. As if I was being pampered from top to toes, I had some one get me pillow to raise my back, someone to hold both my hands and place it in a separate holding place, someone to take my clothes off and someone to get a breathing apparatus on my face. I was supposed to be breathing oxygen they said. They would inject the GA into my veins as I breath in the oxygen with my open mouth. I had my eyes closed because of the apparatus. And I breathed in and out, I asked God to stay by my side and not to leave me. I remembered someone saying, "Now Ms Nathira, I am now injecting the GA into you now". I nodded.


It was dark, I heard cacophony of noises, I counted till 4.And then it slowly muted down exactly like in the movies. And tomorrow - I will have to go through it again. I hope God stays with me again. Pray for me.




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