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August 1, 2013

It all was done with a military type of precision and planning beforehand. Plans for travel were searched up on the internet with many options of travel by combining trains and buses duly printed out. The motel was booked and reference numbers of different stages of hospital procedures studied and taken notice of.

We were told that after the operation, driving would be out of the question so the return trip by public transport would be done in reverse. The first hitch arrived soon after arrival at about 5pm. It was getting dark and the normally lit up signs of Motel were nowhere to be see. The Motel was advertised being situated at Macquarie Park so that’s where the train took us. No motel and we were told it was at Macquarie University rail station instead of Macquarie Park.

We walked about 3 kms back to where we had passed this station before. We were lucky not to be seen as asylum seekers with our bags and struggling demeanors. No street signs and no street numbers. Worse, no people. Finally a lone jogger. I asked him for directions and he gave a reply but kept on jogging in circles around us. Most curious, perhaps he did not want to lose his momentum or meters per minute as he did have some device strapped to his wrist. He kept jogging around me and I turned with him in order to hear what he was saying. He did not really know where he was either. The traffic around us was like a speedway. No taxis, just a shrieking madness on wheels. Kafka nightmare springs to mind.

We plodded on with H getting despondent and very tired. Finally a girl just walking. We asked and she promptly whipped out a gadget into which she tapped the Motel’s name. Within seconds it showed the road we were on and how much further the motel was. Another 1.2 Kms she said. She was an angel.

We arrived hungry and totally dehydrated at our motel. We were too far gone for any fights or marital punch ups. Fortunately we were near a giant shopping-mall that seemed to cater mainly for students of the nearby university. A Thai beef salad and water replenished us and our anger soon abated. We were too buggered for any talk and I had a rotten night, feeling I should have enquired better. I failed in reconnoitering our destination better. I also kept on seeing visions of needles entering my eyes and remembered fainting once at the doctor many years ago. White coats and surgical things do that to me. I am more heroic with words. I usually do a detour around anyone wearing stethoscope or even just glasses.

Next day, at 7.30 am I entered the hospital next to the motel. I coughed up the lollie, not an insignificant amount for the best treatment! I was duly tagged around my wrist and ankle. Ankle? Was the ankle bracelet in case of an inspection of identity at the morgue? Now-a-days technology does most of the work and my tags came out of a printer with the operation and ward number, the specialist, my address, next of kin, all printed on a very strong water proof adhesive tag.

I remembered many years ago at a public hospital being given just a single handwritten tag out of a row of tags which a nurse put around my wrist. I never checked but it turned out to have the name of a woman patient. I came very close to getting wheeled into a hysterectomy ward. It must have been the beard that gave the mistake away and luckily had a colonoscopy instead. Not that a colonoscopy is a pick-nick on the banks of the Blue Danube.

After the usual struggle with the gown open at the back, but underpants were allowed, I was wheeled in the theatre. The operation was over in about 30 minutes. I was give local anesthetic and remained fully aware. It was totally painless and even saw the amazing sight of needles entering my eyeball. Just because you close your eyelid doesn’t mean your eye stops looking! It was just like in the movies. (Not the Sound of Music)

Helvi visited me and appeared, as always, like an angel with her lovely reassuring Mona Lisa smile. Calm and collected she studied me and I regaled with gusto the lovely lunch I had enjoyed after the long fast from the mid-night before. Pork cutlets with garlic infused potatoes, lovely carrots with Apple Strudel with cream as a finale. A coffee as well. Real coffee, I stated. She doubted it.

Amazing, but most of the staff seemed Asian with a punctuality that was awe inspiring. Every two hours a trolley would be wheeled in and temperature, blood pressure and my pulse taken. Brown arms were winding the blood pressure tube around my arm. Almond eyes coming down on me with a concern for my welfare as if I was on death-bed or a shot down war pilot. At times I would be asked for my name and date of birth. Was this to check my state of mind, gone gaga or perchance not the full ticket anymore?

I stayed overnight. During that night the two hour medical inspections continued mercilessly. I was fine and without discomfort and even thought that at one stage the bacon and egg breakfast was coming. Sadly, it was only 2am.

Above the bed I had a small interactive touch TV with internet key board attached to it on a tray. It was suspended from the ceiling by a complex arrangement of swiveling steel pipes and brackets. The bed also had a remote that would do all sorts of strange things to the mattress. When I was a bit bored I just amused myself with the movable bed and the TV and imagined a honeymoon.

Next day at 6.30 am I was wheeled to the eye clinic and the specialist surgeon looked at my eyes and told me the operation was perfect and very successful. Make sure you stop the car when you get driven back because the gas injected behind your eye needs time to adjust to the higher altitude of the Southern Highlands Mountains. When I told him we were travelling by public transport he told me he wasn’t keen on that idea. If something happens, you won’t be able to ask the train driver to stop the train, will you, he said?

Fortunately, after Helvi phoned around, a good friend, (an American of course) offered to pick us up from the motel and drive us back to our home. We had not seen this old friend for some time. He had only just returned from California to spend time with his very old mom.

It turned out that my eye adjusted without any problems with higher altitude. I am still not seeing much. It is as if I am underwater with everything shimmering. That is normal and it will take a few weeks for the gas to be replaced by natural eye fluids. My eye will be as good as new. Marvelous what can be done with modern medical innovation…Thank you dear doctor Van Ho.

So, that’s that then. What next in aging?

Tags: Apple strudel, Blue Danube, Helvi Oosterman, Kafka, Macquary Park Hospital, Vitrectomy