Cancer Journey cont’d – Surgery

The next step for those of us who are dealing with tumors (carcinomas or some sarcomas) is surgery. Now the dreaded world that we call “the cancer journey” has opened to us: but the reality is that we do not know what is in store for us – we just know that it is dreaded by everyone. So now we anxiously wait for the day of the operation.

When we show up at the hospital, this is perhaps our first experience of being treated by a multidisciplinary team. For me personally, it was an eye-opener. I was told to arrive very early in the morning, that my procedure was only a one-day event and that if everything went OK I would be released from the hospital late in the afternoon.

On the day of the operation, after being admitted by admin at 7am, I was led to an open cubicle on the surgical floor. Once there, a nurse did an intake interview, took my vital signs and then told me to wait. After some time, I was asked to go to another cubicle with a chair and again told to wait. She said that “the doctor will come in a minute”. He did come after some time and he marked the location on my body where the operation was to take place, he then confirmed with me that this was the correct spot. Another nurse then came and moved me to yet another cubicle. This one had a chair and a stretcher, and I was again told to wait. This cubicle was supposed to be the last one – the final moments before surgery.

As I waited, I looked around. I could see a large open hall with two rows of six to seven semi-open cubicles, with a lot of patients being moved by nurses from one cubicle to another, just like myself. I realized this place was obviously the prep room right before the operating theaters. There was something strange about this environment: it felt very sterile like we were objects or perhaps numbers where we were moved from one cubicle to the next, like on a production conveyor belt. The nurses were politely impersonal, efficiently going about their tasks. They were very scarce with words, the most often used phrase was “sit here and please wait”.

… and so I waited. This last cubicle had a stretcher, and since it was the early morning I laid down and started to meditate. I switched off the external noise and went into my own center. I was calm; I felt supported by my many friends who were meditating for me at the same time. I didn’t think of the surgery – instead, I managed to stay in the present moment and felt completely at peace with the world and with myself. A gift from years of my yoga and meditation practice!

Suddenly, I was abruptly brought back to reality. A nurse had just rushed into my cubicle, and was demanding that I immediately get up … “I need this stretcher!” she exclaimed with urgency. A little disoriented, I got up slowly and said “Sure”. She noticed my confused reaction and offered a short explanation – “We are short of stretchers and I need it for a patient waiting for spine surgery“ – she then left in a hurry, taking the stretcher with her.

After about an hour of being moved from one cubicle to another and being told to “sit here and please wait”, a nurse came and said, “follow me please” … I got up and we walked into the operating theater. I laid down on the table and was then put to sleep. The next thing I knew I woke up on a stretcher in another big room that was full of stretchers with people laying on them.

To be cont’d

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