Life on Loan
Life is pretty unexpected. One second, you're high up. The next second, you're way down. One day, you're happy. The next day, you're depressed. This month, you feel fit and healthy. The next month, you're not anymore.

That's what happened to me. I noticed a swelling on my left neck about 2-3 months ago. I delayed in consulting a doctor, hoping it was just my imagination. But it's not. It kept staring at me whenever I look in the mirror. And I also considered, what organ may be affected to cause the sweling. And I can only think of the thyroid gland. I reflected a bit: have I ever had any symptoms of hyperthyroidism? Uhh uhh...nope. Hypothyroidism? I don't think so.

The worry was building up so I got a referral to HUKM and went for check-up. Well, one thing led to another. I underwent an FNAC aka fine needle aspiration cytology, where a needle was inserted into the enlarged area and the cells from the area was aspirated out for further analysis. Well, the name FNAC is quite deceiving because the needle is not fine at all. And during my time, the pathologist had to do it twice. Once was painful enough, ni buat dua kali pulak... Pheww...whew!I also had an ultrasound and thyroid function test done.

Well, upon having the FNAC results and interpretations as well as the ultrasound findings (I won't bore you with the technical details), it was decided that I need to go for an operation. The left lobe of my thyroid gland need to be removed, something that is called hemi-thyroidectomy medically.

So, a date was set and I had to make some adjustments to my teaching commitments. A few days before the operation, a colleague asked 'Having palpitation yet?' Strange, but I was quite calm. Well, maybe because I busied myself with work and try not to think what lay ahead. Another colleague called and she commented, you sound cheerful je..' Hmm... Am I that strong? Well, what she didn't know was that beneath the so-called stoic, calm face and cheerful voice, I crumbled a few times crying and had to sought comfort from the Al-Mighty and of course dearest hubby. I'm so blessed to have a very supporting and understanding man as a husband love struck.

On the specified date, I was warded. I requested for Wad Warga of HUKM, a ward that is specially reserved for the staffs of UKM and their family members. Thank God there was a vacancy. Since there are limited rooms in the ward, it may be full house at times.  They put me in a 2-bedded room initially since no single room is available (well, fortunately I'm entitled to have the single room) and was then transferred to the single room few hours later. I was also informed that there are four-bedded rooms as well. But yeah, I really think that HUKM should open up another Wad Warga.

Having lunch in the hospital. Sometimes the food can lead to more depression winking.

The single room, thus more privacy.

And I was supplied with this.

To prepare for the op, I went for vocal cord assessment. Thyroidectomy may be very tricky because of the location of the gland and the nerves surrounding it, specifically the recurrent laryngeal nerve. The nerve that innervate the vocal cord and is responsible for voice. The operation can cause damage to the nerve and will lead to hoarseness of voice. And that is a no-no shame on you  in my line of work. So the vocal cord assessment was done to ensure that the vocal cord is actually functioning well before the operation. Then, if anything goes wrong after the op, boleh la nak saman ke apa ke...tongue

The assessment is something what a vocal teacher would do in Akademi Fantasia for instance. I need to say Aeeeeeee...... But with one exception, a scope is inserted down my throat and the image of the vocal cords can be seen on a monitor. Despite the local anesthetic spray, the procedure still cause some discomfort. Ughh... sick

I was also seen by an anesthesiologist who asked a lot of history. And he happened to be one of my students years ago. His face does look familiar. Mesti salah sorang student yang bising dalam kelas, sebab tu boleh ingat. Having one of my ex-students as my anesthesiologist, shouldn't I feel safe? After all, my colleagues and I were the ones who taught them about drugs which include anesthetic agents.

My operation was scheduled the next day. The first case of the day. So I was given midazolam, a sedative, and donned the OT gown quite early in the morning. My husband managed to arrived before I was wheeled to the OR. He had to mind the kids, wake them up, make sure they are dressed for school and send them to school and then rushed to the hospital. I was quite calm during the journey 5 floors down to the OR. The midazolam's effects must have kicked in.

In the OR, eventually I was put on the gas mask and the scent reminded me of my car's air freshener. At the same time I was injected with another anesthetic agent via the branula on my left hand. And ouchh... That hurts. So, there I was, lying on the narrow OT table/bed, thinking of the pain on my left hand and wondering why the hell was I still conscious thinking. The next thing I know, I was trying to open my heavy eyes, and hey... the operation was over.

The surgeon who did the procedure is one of the deputy deans and a great specialist. So I was in good hands, Alhamdulillah. I was told later that he did a small incision on the neck to save me from a large scar. About 3 cm incision and he and his assistants had to put extra effort in removing the left lobe of the gland which measures about 5 cm. He faced some difficulties initially in finding my recurrent laryngeal nerve which became very naughty that day and placed itself so close to one of the large veins. But everything turned out well in the end, praise to Allah praying. But I was told to expect some bruises around the wound due to the retraction of the skin during the procedure.

This is the dissected tissue. Look pretty nasty, isn't it?

And I had to have this drain attached to my neck to drain the blood out. It was a bloody affair during the operation, I was told.

It was difficult and quite painful to swallow after the operation. So I had to eat this.

I was able to talk immediately after the operation even though I needed to clear my throat frequently. That was a relief.

Some colleagues came for a visit and brought this. (oh yess.... I was bored in the hospital, sampai benda ni pun nak ambik gambar sigh).

I was retained in the hospital for 3 days. And I thought I would rest my voice so that it is fully recovered. But no... not long after I got back home, I have started yelling at my kids... Sheesh.. Even though I think I have regained my original voice, I couldn't help but ask my hubby, 'Makin merdu tak suara ni?' He laughed and said, 'sama je la...' Cheh... I won't mind if he lied. laughing

Anyhow, I used to have a thyroid gland. But now, half of it is gone. It is one of the things that we claimed as ours but actually it is only loaned to us. For how long? Not for us to know. Today, it's the thyroid gland. Next? Who knows? Maybe the liver, the kidneys, the limbs or maybe even the ability to breathe. Like all other loans, the things that Allah loaned to us are not without terms and conditions. The question is: have I abide by the T and C? Err.... that's a very difficult question worried. 
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6 Responses
  1. Dear Leeca, i would say that your writing is a reminder to me. What i have now and the thing that i might lose tomorrow. We can never tell but as long as we are grateful for whatever it is..That should be fine. After all, we are human being. Take care of yourself. Good writing!

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Leeca: i was reading and came across the part about the food..??? he he he I'll gossip about the food later when we have the time later..but if ever I'm warded kat HUKM..pls2 tapau me food from home!!!!!!! he he he

  3. vetnone Says:

    alahai..sorry...that anony gal was me laaa....

  4. Thanks Timeh. Ye la, human being, kept forgetting.
    Anisah: Let's hope tak kena warded langsung.

  5. Hasnah Says:

    Leeca dearie, i just knew about this op of yours. I'm so glad everything went well. Alhamdulillah. Thank you for sharing this and its something for me to reflect. take good care of yourself ye. Keep on writting as i alway enjoy reading it^_^

  6. Alhamdulillah, aku ok dah sekarang. It has been a slap on my face too. :)