Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Brave, Old Dad!
"I don't think it was bad at all..." Dad muttered once he was brought over to sit at the waiting area beside me, where I was waiting for him.
"They say that I will feel warm all over my body or some pain when the solution gets in," Dad explained with those tired old eyes looking at me, "but I don't feel anything strange at all."
"That's good, Dad." I replied, "They were just being cautious. That happens only in extreme cases."
Dad just nodded, his eyes looking straight at the counter where Staff Nurse Samantha Chua was seated. I was not sure whether it made him nervous knowing the worst that could happen or he would rather not know anything at all.
Yes. Anticipation is the worst kind.
That is Dad. Always putting up a brave front. Always tolerating what is being dished out onto him... a mindset most probably hard-wired during the Japanese Occupation. Not many questions, just lots of trust... in me and with my decisions, it seems.
Though I am honoured, I however, sometimes feel that I betray his trust by not letting him know about the cancerous growth he had removed 3 years ago. Then again, it was our collective decision and I still think it is the right one.
I left work half an hour early with permission from my boss. Took the MRT to Outram Station and walked to SGH... the third day in a row.
I arrived about an hour before the 7:00 PM appointment. Had time for my dinner and a cup of coffee to keep me alert for the evening, just in case.
While sipping my coffee, messages after messages bombarded my iPhone. I shot back each one of them replying my siblings. Like a celebrity, several of them vied for the opportunity to fetch Dad back home after the CT Scan procedure.
My niece eventually won the honour of having dinner with both her favourite "people" and sending them back home.
My Sis and her husband came half an hour early with Dad and Mom at the back seat. We arrived at the Radiology Centre at Block 4 Level 1 and registered Dad at the reception.
The fee was S$160.00 after a 63% government subsidy of S$440.00 in total bill. After payment, I accompanied Dad into the waiting area where Staff Nurse Samantha Chua greeted us with a warm smile and attended to Dad straight away.
I could not help but felt a sense of rendezvous when I was in the changing room to help Dad get into his Kimono scrub. Past occasions with Dad and also with Mom seemed like fresh and were like yesterday to me. I hated it.
I hated that they had to go through all these unpleasant experiences. Each time I felt helpless, unable to ease their pain or worries but to only be there for them, while keeping my composure tight.
Dad was then asked to go into the other room for a private talk with the doctor. I was asked in to translate for him.
Waiting for the doctor to come in, I was worried sick for what was to come. I noticed that the earlier patients were not called-in after they had changed into their kimonos, but Dad was treated differently.
"Doctor wants to tell you what you should do during the scanning." I told Dad, just assuming the reason we were called in. Dad just nodded and stayed quiet.
Dr. Tan came into the room with Staff Nurse Samantha trailing behind. They exchanged some medical jargon between them before Dr. Tan addressed and introduced himself to us.
He repeated the questions the nurse already asked and checked on the given form. He endorsed it after being satisfied that it was "safe" for Dad to undergo the scanning.
"I'm here because this is your Dad's first time." He explained. "Your Dad is old, so there are a few things we have to take note..." he paused.
"He will experience a little pain and his upper body will feel warm when we inject him with the contrast liquid," he explained further, "he must tell us if it gets too painful for him. We will stop. He only needs to verbally tell us or lift his right hand."
I explained to Dad word-for-word. "Just tell them if it's too painful, OK?"
Dad nodded. I just did not want him to be a hero in there and that it was alright to say he was in pain.
Yes, We're Ready!
"OK then. I think we're ready." Dr. Tan said and left the room.
I finally felt at ease again. Nothing serious, just that Dad was old and that he needed to understand what he was going to go through during the procedure.
Staff Nurse Samantha reiterated to me to remind Dad that he should ask to stop if he felt pain. It was because old folk have weak veins. The pressure while injecting the contrast liquid during the scan could, in extreme case, burst a vein.
She nevertheless assured us that Dad was reacting normally when she injected normal saline into the secured catheter in his arm to test his condition.
Like clock work, Dad was ushered into the scan room at 7:10pm. The procedure took only 10 minutes. Dad was out and his catheter removed. Seated next to me, he had to stay there with his other hand pressed on the injection wound for another 10 minutes before he could change back into his clothes and allowed to leave.
"Pakcik dah boleh makan dan minum air banyak-banyak, OK?" She reminded him in Malay language, petting Dad's shoulder.
"He needs to flush out the contrast liquid with lots of fluid intake tonight, OK?" She reminded me to tell Dad.
Let's Just Celebrate!
We went out, back to the reception where Mom, Sis and her husband, my Niece and her husband, together with their two adorable sons coloring in their activity books, were waiting for Dad.
All done! "Let's have dinner!" My niece suggested...
Then started the debate on the best eating place to go as we left the centre. It was like a little celebration for Dad. An achievement for being brave and being much loved.
A convoy of 2 cars went off into the night for a celebration. I went the other way for home. The next day is a workday. I just needed to hit the pillow. I was mentally tired.
The "verdict" will be out in two weeks time. On 6th November at 2:30 PM, Respiratory Consultant, Dr. Devanand will tell us the result of the CT scan...