In my previous post I regaled you with the story of how I discovered a fibroid the size of an orange in my uterus. The following is the tale of my hospital adventure.
As you can imagine, having invasive surgery in a foreign country, without your family (let’s be honest, mostly your mom) is super fun. The whole experience was surreal, from the big prayer circle the surgeons conducted as they put me under, to the fact that I ate the same thing (rice and seaweed soup) for a week, to the insanity that is surgical aftercare in Korea. Nurses who help you? Um, no. They give you drugs. (But they're very sweet while giving you said drugs!)
I can guarantee you that a hospital stay in Korea is unlike any other you’ll experience. I arrived at 8am on the day of the operation, and they quickly administered a delightful enema and inserted a catheter. Like, within 10 minutes of my arriving! I barely had time to say goodbye to a tearful Lovely Gen. Then, I was told to walk myself to the operating theatre down the hall (catheters are so comfy when walking!) and lay myself down on the gurney/operating table.
Before they could get cracking, the poor nurses and doctors had to remove my belly ring, which had been in place for the past 10 years and was thus reluctant to bid my belly goodbye. Confused looks were exchanged, much Korean was muttered (crazy foreigner, must be a gangster, etc), and then someone fetched a pair of pliers. After realising that my skin was not enjoying being stretched to breaking point while being stabbed with a rusty tool, they gathered for a prayer and put me under. I even counted backwards from 10 in Korean, high five to me!
When I awoke, I found myself in a room with four other women in various stages of childbirth/aftercare. The room wasn’t big enough for all the patients, let alone the nurses and various visitors next to, on and even under the beds. To make matters worse, in Korea they keep maternity hospitals really hot as it’s ‘good for health’ so I was boiling. I had a sandbag on my cut, which was much bigger than expected thanks to a surgical complication, a huge IV shunt in my arm and pain radiating to every part of my body.
|The Lovely Gen visited me every day. So did the hippo.|
In Korea your family looks after you in hospital and there are no visiting hours, so there were people all over the place, all the time. The Lovely Gen had to sleep on a pallet under my bed, but got zero rest that first night thanks to bright lights, nurses coming in and out with meds, making sure I was ok, the other women moaning and having babies, etc. In all seriousness, I would not have survived that week if it hadn’t been for her. She was exhausted by the end of it, and still let me stay at her house for 2 weeks to recover. If I wasn’t sure she was the one for me before that, I certainly was afterwards.
You’re probably thinking, “Ok, this is all well and good, but what’s the deal with the rainbow-coloured hippo?” So I shall tell you forthwith. I had a shunt in my arm, for drips and injections, etc, which was not very comfortable. So my friend Fay bought me a long, rainbow-coloured hippo plush toy to rest my arm on. I love rainbows. Anyway, while examining this gift I looked at the tag, and it said that this thing’s name was Clytia, which I read as Clit-ia. Clytia the hippo. I have a filthy mind at the best of times, so drugs made sure I found this hilarious, which was not ideal in my current, cut-stomach-muscles state. Laughing hurt like a bitch!
The next evening, a bunch of friends came to visit me, which was very sweet of them. Before they arrived, I asked The Lovely Gen not to tell them about Clytia, because laughing hurt too much. Despite this, the news leaked during a lull in conversation, with everyone sitting around my bed. They all examined the toy, and started giggling. They tried hard not to laugh, the poor things, but you know how it is. You laugh hardest in church because you’re not supposed to. And the more they giggled, the more I laughed/hurt/ruptured my innards.
Finally, as everyone else burst into hysterics, I burst into tears because I was trying so hard not to laugh out loud that the morphine no longer helped. As you can imagine, there’s nothing awkward about that at all! Silence followed, feet were shuffled, throats were cleared and suddenly everyone had to leave for various reasons. The Lovely Gen was horrified, and to her credit she still apologises when I mention this cruelty. I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to everyone who witnessed my melt-down! Thanks for visiting me!