Exactly a week ago i underwent my first ever surgery in my 26 years of life. It was daunting and scary to say the least. But before i get ahead of myself, it's only right that i give you a bit of background of what surgery it was and why i had to go through it.
More than a month ago, my period was delayed for almost 1.5 weeks – which is not completely unusual. I've had delayed periods before due to stress (especially during exams) but i'm not sure why this time i just felt that they delay could be more than just stress. I then did a pregnancy test which showed to be negative. A few days after taking the test, i suddenly realised there was a small lump on my right breast. This was unusual because it was never there before this. In all honesty, the first thought that came to my very human mind was "Could this be cancerous?" I then told Sung (my husband) about my latest discovery and we both agreed that i should see a gynaecologist to run further tests. We always believe that there's no harm checking because if it really is something that requires more attention, at least we have the upper hand of early detection. And if it's nothing to be worried about, at least we got ourselves the peace of mind – which to us, is far more precious than worrying ourselves away just because we don't wanna spend those few extra hundred bucks for a check-up.
So that's what we did the following day! We went to a nearby women's clinic and the doctor did an ultrasound scan for me. He scanned my womb, my left ovary looked perfectly fine according to him, but when he moved the ultrasound scan towards my right ovary, we saw a strange dark circular patch located on my right ovary. The doctor zoomed in and did the scan in a few different angles and he explained to us that he found what appeared to be an ovarian cyst on my right ovary. The cyst was measured up to 7.5cm in width and about 4.5cm in length.
I was lost for words. Not in a good way, but in a manner of disbelief and disappointment.
I visited the gynae to just check if i was really not pregnant, and to see if the lump on my breast was anything i should be worried about. Little or never did i expect to receive such a news.
Many people, including the doctor, comforted me by telling me that ovarian cysts are a very common thing amongst women. It just happens to random women for no particular reason. But knowing that you're diagnosed with a common 'disease' (for lack of a better medical word) does not in any way take away the worry, stress and anxiety that come with it. So many questions ran through my head at once:
"Why a cyst?"
"How long has it been there?"
"Is there anything else in my body that's yet to be discovered?"
"Why can't my body be a normal healthy body?"
"Why is my body so weak?"
Not gonna lie. I cried. I cried a whole lot that day, from the moment the word 'cyst' came out from the doctor's mouth to the very moment i went to bed that night. I cried when i went for lunch, when i was munching my food, when i was in the shower, i could even be having a completely normal conversation with Sung in the car and i'd suddenly tear up for no reason.
I was an emotional wreck.
Sung just held me in his arms whenever he could, made sure i eat even though that was the last thing i felt like doing, and he would patiently and gently ask me...
"What's going through your head, dear?"
I couldn't utter a single word to explain to him why i was crying because....i didn't know for sure why i was crying in the first place. I just knew that i was sad. But i thank God for having him by my side the entire time. I can only imagine how tough it must have been for him, equally as shocked and sad as i was but he still had to make sure he's strong enough for me – his wife who's incapable of proper speech; only uncontrollable tearing.
I did a cancer marker test (CA-125) in the clinic on that very day, just to check if the cyst could by any chance be cancerous. The result only came out a week after. Thank God, the result showed that i was tested negative for any sign/risk of cancer. However, my doctor friend, Debbie, told us that even though the cancer marker test may be negative, it does not guarantee that the cyst has no potential to be cancerous. Sometimes the cyst could be what they call a 'borderline cyst'. Meaning it's not cancerous yet. But it has the potential to become cancerous given the 'right' environment/circumstances.
So we were given the option to let the cyst just sit in there without doing anything to it because it wasn't giving me any sort of pain or discomfort. In fact, if i didn't get my body checked that day i wouldn't have known about the cyst until today. I thank God for all the unforeseen circumstances that led me to go for the checkup. Though the finding wasn't favourable, but i wouldn't have it any other way. But the risk of letting the cyst be is that it might twist or even burst – which would result in an immediate emergency surgery to get it removed. If the cyst bursts and is found to be cancerous, it will elevate a cancer stage from a stage two to stage three or four. That's how risky it was.
Another option was to surgically remove it through a laparoscopic surgery. It's a minimally invasive surgery, also known as a keyhole surgery, to have the cyst removed through three small incisions near by womb area. The risk is of course surgical risks. There are risks that come with every/any form of surgery, no matter how minimally invasive they are. There's a risk of me having to remove my right ovary or even my entire womb if things were to end up more complicated than expected. And then of course there's a risk of reoccurrence. Just because i've gotten it removed doesn't mean it's the last cyst i'll ever have.
We carefully thought through each option and considered all the risks, and we decided to go for the surgery. We don't wanna risk having the cyst twist itself or even burst. We'd rather have it removed then pray and believe that it will not reoccur. Even if it does, at least i'll be more experienced (and less emotional. hopefully. haha) and more familiarised with the procedures. By then i'd be like, "KEEP CALM AND REMOVE THE CYST." Kidding. Hoping i'll never go through it again. Lol.
So yes! We're finally down to the part of the surgery.
My biggest fear wasn't the surgery itself, but the fact that i'll be under GA (general anaesthetics) freaked me out. BIG. TIME. The thought of losing my consciousness completely to a group of people i barely know, having to trust them with my life for that good 1.5 hours of surgery really worried me to the core.
A week before my surgery i was having a conversation with Sung's sister, Ian Zing, and she recently just went for a surgery to remove her tonsils which required her to be fully under GA. I asked her:
"Didn't you feel scared?"
That spoke to me so much. So profound yet such simple truths that i've failed to grasp. I'm putting so much faith in my doctor that i failed to realise that it is God who gives doctors the wisdom, understanding and skills to carry out whatever it is that they do. God; the Doctor of all doctors. The ultimate surgeon. The giver of life.
With that, i felt so much more at peace. Fears were still present. They were still real. But what's more real to me was/is Him.
my hospital tag
in the words of Sung,
"OMG babe! You have a permanent pass to Sunway Lagoon now!"
i'm ready for surgery!
this is the photo i sent to my family and friends upon checking in.
i'm pretty sure nobody has looked this happy to be on a hospital bed before.
i must have confused many nurses that day.
They cleared my bowel (weirdest thing ever) and first time in my life i pooped with such ease. Thank God for all these medical tools. I wasn't allowed to eat nor drink from 8am onwards until after my surgery.
12:50pm: I was wheeled off from my room to the floor where the operation will be held. The moment the nurses wheeled me away from Sung, i started tearing. I couldn't believe it was actually happening. I dreaded that moment so much, yet i was seriously looking forward to the very moment i get wheeled back into my room – knowing that the cyst has been removed and i'm all right now. Seeing me tear, Sung teared too. Two emotional fur balls walking towards the lift with two very comforting nurses who just smiled and nodded at us and told us everything is gonna be okay.
1pm: I was transferred to another bed. Nurses got my details checked again and again, made sure i knew what surgery it was gonna be and etc. Soon after, i was wheeled into a corner of the waiting room. It was just me staring at the ceiling. Complete silence. It was the best moment to sleep. And so i did.
2pm: Got woken up by a nurse when she called my name. It was time. She then wheeled me into the operation theatre. It was the strangest feeling ever. I wasn't scared. If all goes according to what i've rehearsed in my mind, this should be the very moment where i freak out, cry the most and say my most desperate prayers. But to my surprise, i felt such sense of peace and courage. I smiled to the nurses and my anaesthetist, and was then transferred to yet another bed. The room was really cold, but thank God for this heated operation bed! It played a big part in calming my nerves. I got my IV drip on, blood pressure monitored, details checked yet again, and i was just waiting for the arrival of the doctor.
230pm: The doctor came into the room, he smiled and asked me how am i. He then said, "Ok! We're ready for the operation. You'll take a little nap now ya, Gladys. Just enjoy your short nap. I'll see you in a bit." It was a nap most unfamiliar to me. Never have i felt this nervous to sleep in my life. My anaesthetist put the GA gas mask on my nose and he said, "Ok Gladys, just breathe in and out. It's gonna be a short nap."
And so i breathed... inhaled, exhaled, inhaled, exhaled, inha...
I was out.
To be honest i'm a lil' disappointed because i didn't get to do they always do in movies. I was really hoping they'd ask me to count backwards from 100 to 0. "100, 99, 98, 97, 96..." Oh well. Another time. Hopefully never. Lol.
4:15pm: I woke up with a sharp sharp pain in my lower abdomen. I've never felt such sharp and cramping pain before. On a pain scale of 1-10, it was an 8. I was maximum dizzy and drowsy from the GA, and i wanted to shout so badly but i couldn't. A nurse saw that i was awake and he came to me, i could only utter one word to him "Pain....pain...." He just nodded and asked me to hang in there because they just administered the pain killers into my IV and it'll take awhile before it takes effect on my body. I was in the recovery room for almost 20 minutes – by far the most painful 20 minutes i've ever experienced (at least for now until labor pain takes over this award).
4:35pm: Finally. The moment i've been looking forward to finally arrived. I was wheeled back into my room. I was greeted by familiar faces of friends Terry, Steph and Tabby – and soon after, Sung. Nothing is more comforting than to see the people you love when you're struggling with pain. Almost immediately, i felt less dizzy and drowsy. I guess that's what love does to you. It heals you faster than any pain killers can.
Long story short (even though it's already very long), i'm back at home now, discharged from the hospital 2 days after the surgery and i'm on a 2-week medical leave to rest and recuperate at home. Rest has been great thus far. I've been resting well, sleeping well, eating well (hopefully not too well) and recovering well. I've been binge watching Masterchef US Season 8 (waiting for episode four), Masterchef Canada and Gordon Ramsay videos. And nope, i still can't cook. That's why i'm watching people cook food that i won't possibly cook in my life to make myself feel less sad about my limited culinary skills. By 'limited' i mean Shimramyun and fried eggs limited.
I'll be seeing the doctor in a couple more days for my follow-up checkup where he'll reveal to me photos of my cyst and the lab report of it.
Till then, i just wanna thank God for showing Himself so real and true to both Sung and i throughout this season. He is always present, though sometimes silent, yet i know so well in my heart that silence doesn't equate to absence. He blessed us with so many good and wise counsels, great support from family members, close friends and leaders who constantly checked up on us to ask how we are doing, constantly praying for/with us. We're also grateful to God for a successful operation, for putting the right doctors and nurses into our lives. The whole process of being admitted into the hospital, to the surgery itself, to the recovery process have been nothing but pleasant – and we're so thankful for that.
And i'm also extremely (x1000) thankful for my amazing husband. My constant supporter and strength from day one all the way till today. Someone who has so lovingly, patiently, gently and generously give of himself to me. Wouldn't have made it out victorious if it weren't for him by my side. He makes every challenge in life a little more bearable and purposeful.
I hope to write more since i'm gonna home bound for awhile more. So here's a hospital giraffe signing off,
thank you for your love.
no longer afraid of GA and no longer possessing the 24/7 Sunway Lagoon pass.