For the past few years, I’ve been aware of this small lump gradually growing between my waist and lower left ribcage. It hadn’t been growing at an alarming rate- perhaps a millimeter per month, and seemed to be only skin deep. Other than that, my health and activity was not affected, so I procrastinated to visit the Doctor.
As I watch my son grow up so quickly, I finally decided it was time to make that long -awaited visit to the hospital and face the music. I ended up having to make four separate trips to the hospital before I finally met the specialist surgeon. All three doctors that looked at it confidentially diagnosed it as a irregular fat cell growth with ‘no potential risk’.
Since I had no symptoms, the only way to check for sure if the tumor was a risk was to surgically remove it and send it to the lab. That, or wait to find out how big it will be when I’m 50. In the end, I decided it was best to depart with it, as I didn’t want to take a risk of it being a malignant or cancerous tumor, with the ability to spread to nearby organs at an alarming rate.
The surgery itself was so swift. By the time, they strapped me to the surgical bed on Tuesday morning at 9.30ish a. m. , I had been mentally and physically humble from the previous hour of anticipation.
The surgery sector of the Samut Songkhram government hospital was on the second floor (of roughly 10 stories). Lucky my favorite color is green, because I would completely engulf and surrounded by the faded hospital paint for that exciting morning.
Shortly after arriving half past eight, the mid-aged, male nurses’ assistant guided me to the changing room. The shades of faded hospital green cloths were as various as a hidden jungle cove in the Andaman. After confirming that they were all the same size, I grabbed a shirt and sarong style cloth from the top of the pile.
The nurse had me sit down in a chair in a corridor separated from other sections mainly by steel and glass window-walls. To the back of me was the glass wall to the reception area and check-in desk.
In my separated corridor, about 2 meters to my front-left, there were two elderly female patients lying in mobile hospital beds, each with a cylinder-type bandage over one of their eyes.
There are three chairs against the right-hand wall with one woman in the far right chair. I sit down on the far left. The 40 something lady in green meds sits nervously. I had known from the previous day, that I would be the second queue of the surgeon for that morning, as a female was scheduled to remove some growth in her nipples.
She quickly makes conversation. “What are you getting surgery for?” I pointed to my stomach and told her that I was to remove a fat tumor. I didn’t dare ask her in return for the awkwardness it may have caused.
In a flash, she disappears out the glass door to the right, where there are half a dozen or so visible numbered surgery rooms. On the visible wall, I large whiteboard has up to 30 names listed along with age, notes about type of surgery, and Doctors name.
I was second on the list, my name and the doctors listed in Thai, but the type of surgery in English. Under my name and age, it listed ‘Reo Lipo’, whatever that means?
As I waited in the dark room watching one nurse tend to the patients in mobile beds, and chitter chatter with an older nurse about what I’m doing and have been doing and all other things, the anticipation of the surgeon’s scalpel increased.
Through the glass window/wall to the left, I could hear and see my son making faces, jumping and calling for attention from a group of girls in the waiting area. With this vision captured in my mind, I sat up straight and began to regulate my breathing into long controlled breaths, as to calm my nerves.
On a few instances, the nurse came in and I nearly jumped out of my pants. “Be patient, your coming up real soon” she would say in Thai and then leave the room again.
As I lay there on my back, arms and legs strapped down like some black and white horror flick, (or green and white for that matter) I can see nothing other than a hospital sheet and the occasional face of one of the assistants peaking over the sheet to check my expression.
First, they washed my left abdominal area, and my heart started to beat faster as I knew it was coming soon. Then the final warnings came as a female voice was saying ‘it’s only gonna hurt a bit’ over and over, until I finally felt the needles wrath pinch and sting at several different points.
After a few gulps, grasps and fist clinches, my whole left stomach felt num. I could feel some small pulling on my skin but absolutely no pain or no awareness of a scalpel carving out my stomach.
Before I new what hit me, I was stitched up and sent on my way downstairs to pay the bill. And now for the best part of the story : No insurance, no social welfare, or med- care schemes to help me out-just a wallet in hand. Total damage including surgery, doctors fee, examination fee, post-surgery laboratory and pain killer fees : 870 baht ! ! That’s rounds up to less than 26 US dollars.
I have yet to remove my stitches next Monday. On that appointment, I should also hear the results and find out for sure if the tumor was malignant (cancerous ability to spread to organs) or just benign (non cancerous inability to spread to organs) .
Jao Moragoat is a Thai American based in Central / Southern Thailand. Read more about the Thailand cyber hub, Greenskale Studios at http://www.thaiskale.com