Relationship with my mum was getting a lot better. Mum was already a volunteer worker at St. Vincent De Paul and World Vision. But after she moved to her new place, she had started to work at the Cheltenham Community Centre as well, teaching sewing to migrants. She was starting to enjoy having her freedom. Mum had also started to going for computer and swimming classes. We would visit her every Saturday for an authentic Sri Lankan feed. Our kids would go and spend a night or two during school holidays. Both parties enjoyed playing scrabble and monopoly. They were very proud to see their grandmother on face book. They would help her with technical issues and so on.
Adelaide was having a horrid summer. This was almost the 5th day of a heat wave. Nil by mouth on a day like this was extremely hard. Anyway went under the knife, around 4.00pm. Not sure how long the surgery was for. First night was in the CCU (Critical Care Unit). Next morning I slowly walked to the toilet to have a wash and change with the help of the nurse. I was a bit sore but I was able to talk and I was on my feet, I was rather radiant and happy. It could have been the effects of all the morphine from the night before. Just after the wash I threw up. I usually have that reaction the day after anaesthesia. I guess most people do. So no big fuss about that and I was now transferred to the normal ward.
Hubby came to see me with a paper article in his hand. It was Arj on the paper, he had given an interview about the short film he had done a couple of months ago. I proudly showed the article to the nurse. The vomiting continued. I couldn’t keep anything down. Throat surgery and vomiting doesn’t go hand in hand. I was put on anti nausea medication. I was now moved to a private room. I was meant to be going home on the 4th or the 5th day. It was now the 5th day. The vomiting hadn’t stopped and I was still on IV Fluids. So they decided to have me in for another couple of days. Adelaide heat wave was still ramping up. Even the hospital A/c was finding it hard to cope. The heat, vomiting and pain all combined I was struggling a bit at times.
It was probably the 5th or the 6th day. The doctor came around lunch time, about 1.00pm to see me. This was rather unusual. He normally sees me in the morning. I was on my own. Hubby only comes in the evening with the boys. He smiled and asked how I was doing. I said “not bad”, he gently started to talk. My test results of the Thyroid lump had come through. Well, I have Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma. A very rare type of thyroid cancer. He sat on the edge of my bed and repeated “bugger, bugger, bugger”. Not exactly professional for a doctor. I’ve never seen him like this.
On the contrary I was rather calm. I am really not sure how or why. I guess I already had an inclination, that maybe this could be it. To a certain extent I felt relieved. We finally found it. So I asked the doctor rather calmly “what next”. That’s pretty much me at most situations, “Madam your flight has been cancelled” and I would say “what your next flight?” then the rest of organising, I would let the pickup person know etc. You have to be practical about these things. I usually don’t see the point in fretting over things. So the news of cancer got the same treatment. Dr. Kollias either thought that I was a fruit cake or he was relieved that I was not bawling my eyes out. He straightened up. He told me that he had already spoken to my husband. The next step is to remove the rest of the thyroid and surrounding lymph nodes etc. And he went on to say that this totally explains the raised CEA marker. I asked him if I had to go through Chemotherapy. He said that Chemo and radio therapy does not work with this type of cancer. At that stage I didn’t really understand the full extent of this particular cancer. I didn’t realise that if it had spread then I wouldn’t have much of a fighting chance. The talk of cancer had become so routine I was treating this as another procedure for a scan.
So the next surgery was scheduled in two days. I had to go in for another scan and a few more blood tests. It was the day of the second surgery, I was in immense pain already, the thought of the doctor opening up the same wound and fiddling around, made me feel nervous. My blood pressure was sky rocketing. I took the last sip of water before the NIL By mouth curfew sets in.
I looked at the picture that was hanging on the wall. It was the picture of Venice. It was of a couple on the gondola. Venice has been on my bucket list for a long time. There are many beautiful places in the world and I would love to see them all. However, Venice is the only one I have put on my Bucket List. Well I haven’t crossed that off the list yet I thought. I stared at that picture again. I thought to myself, “Nah, It’s not my time yet, I haven’t been to Venice” I imagined the “nah” with an Aussie accent, well pretty much the whole sentence in the most bogan accent. Rather laid back, but with conviction. Not sure if the big man up there had a part in placing that picture, or just a mere coincidence. But the picture served its purpose. Your inspiration or conviction can come from anything. And it doesn’t matter where it comes from. It could be a picture of Venice, it could be the picture of the flower that blooms only once a year or just the thought of your kids. Just use any lame excuse to say “I have to be here”.
When I got wheeled in for the surgery I met the whole team the Anaesthetist, the Surgeon and the nurses. I was probably prepped a little bit so I was already rather happy and mellow. The surgeon mentioned to Anaesthetist not to use the same medicine as last time as that didn’t agree with me, and the Anaesthetist said “I am well ahead of you sir, I have a different plan this time” and I asked him “what to knock me out with a frying pan” We all had a chuckle.
Humour is very important to me. I find this eases me and as well as those around me. When you are going through something serious, it’s the big elephant in the room, and no one knows how to talk about it. I guess they don’t know how to behave around you. But if you show them that you have the capacity to laugh then they will join you. Then it becomes a happier place. A place where it’s filled with positivity and no room given for negativity or self pity.
The Anaesthetist also knew my name meant goddess of the earth. He had Asian features. I asked him if he was from Thailand as there are many Hindus there. He said he was from Singapore and he is Chinese, however was very interested Indian culture and its stories. I don’t remember any other conversations after that. He must have got hold of that frying pan.
to be cont…