Thursday, March 8, 2012


So here I was on this trolley being
wheeled into the operation theatre. Not for the first time .This was my second time ; good thing we have only two eyes.
Imagine poor Shiva with his Third Eye! If
ever he was diagnosed with Glaucoma he would have to have three surgeries. I have found it tough enough getting over these two .
Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, on the trolley being wheeled into the theatre. And, at least three ward boys and
two Sisters, one lift man and one other random bystander had looked kindly, curiously,
disinterestedly, dare I say leeringly ? yes, I think he was leering and unconcernedly by turns during my rather bumpy ride from the 10th floor day care
centre to the OT on the 2nd floor. Believe me this is the toughest part of any surgery. The trolley ride into the Theatre . And its no Red Carpet ride. Its scary.
There have been many times in my line of work that I have actually accompanied nervous and edgy patients similarly swathed with ensconced inside rough, much washed, dull bottle green
linen atop unnervingly high trolleys in different hospitals. Done some hand holding,
and in turn had my arm gripped long and hard , smoothened creases from worried
, furrowed brows , spoken soothing words of comfort and encouragement , all the
time trying to make sure I am as reassuring as possible and make the person feel
less like the proverbial lamb being led to slaughter .
On the happily rumbling trolley just now , stripped of all protection but for the dull blue many times laundered gingham gown ( hmmm definitely not ball gown ok) ten times too big for even my 5’8” 80kg frame , I wondered how helpful my OT Trolley bedside manner and ministrations must have been to my patients . I was a nervous wreck already.
Have you ever thought how important apparel is ? How vulnerable one can feel when you are asked to strip down to nothing? Sisters Nellie , Minu and don’t remember the name of the kind older nurse in charge , had asked me turn by turn ; you have removed every thing no? brapantie ? yes? underclothes yes ? everything yes ? And as I nodded and nodded in certain affirmation ,the
day care in charge had shouted down to the door as I was being wheeled out ; check for dentures and loose teeth ( hullo I was old yes but not that old Madam
I silently screamed !)
Oh yes sweet Sister Minu had been the thorough one . My nicely shaped finger nails had been cut – straight and ugly and my toe nails denuded of their well, elegant pale pink varnish and yes trimmed shot short short and of course I had already had all my various jingle jangle
bangles and earrings and stuff removed at home itself. My stubborn nose stud
had to be covered by a strip of sticking plaster.
And I had been asked a hundred
million times in the room if I had passed urine? Yes Sister passed , passed . That was one test
I did not fail . The questioning only stopped when my gentle bearded giant of a son walked in and the sisters retreated in gentle fright. Not for nothing is he called Bhayanak Maut . Oh how good it
had been to have him around as I readied myself.
But yes come OT time you were stripped down to nothing at all and you felt so vulnerable , so so unprotected ,so bare . And shivering - chilled out. you might as well be laid on a slab of cold
stone awaiting the scalpel.
But that was till you spot your surgeon’s kind face looming above you. He too is in some dull coloured scrubs but from in between his mask and head gear you see his kind eyes twinkling at
you and I fall in love with him all over again.
His eyes spell confidence, reassurance and yes kindness. I am anyway smitten by him but now I realise I really love this wonderful, efficient and good man. Rule # 1 to #100 , choose your
surgeon well . Next to God he is the one guy you have to have faith in.
I think there is something very special that binds a patient to his /her surgeon. As you would to a beloved or to your God , you are giving yourself up , all of yourself minus nail polish
and ear rings and in the most unbecoming of all attires but you are his to do as
he will and at his will .
I am glad my procedure was not done under general anaesthesia or I don’t know if I should be glad it was done under local anaesthesia ( hey heard this one about the picky patient who told
his surgeon no local stuff for me doc only the best imported one) I would have just
gone to sleep and woken up after the ordeal was over . But then again , today I
cherish the 90 -100 odd minutes I spent not once but twice ( remember two eyes
two surgeries theory) under his scalpel in that OT , being a conscious part of
what was being done to me.
The atmosphere suddenly becomes
normal –well almost. You are still shivering, near naked and have an assortment
of electrodes and probes stuck into you . Then the surgeon asks you , Mrs
Venkatesh are you ok with the FM radio playing ? it is only then I realise that
Kishore Kumar is crooning in the background which is why it all seems very
Till kingdom come now I will not forget a handful of songs that 93.5 FM played throughout the procedure (s) . I also realised I was not shivering anymore. One of the assistants had slipped in
what they call a “warmer” , a large , flabby air tube that lay gently on my
stomach blowing warm air , lulling me into a state of bliss. I also felt all of my face being covered
leaving only the eye exposed and air tubes in my nostrils enabling me to breathe
There was a surreal moment when
this lady came into my limited field of vision –I guess I heard her more than I
saw her . She was making sure my surgeon had the right patient soon to be under
his scalpel. She read out my name , my identification marks , checked the tag
on my wrist , the little marker above the right eye ensuring he would not cut
up the wrong eye even if it was my right eye and then announced my date of birth
to all – 59 years , 5 months and 7 days ….
The state of bliss I alluded to a while ago was not to be for long as now the surgeon,
seated right behind my head was telling me ok Mrs Venkatesh I am going to inject the anaesthesia and OUCH there it came,
sharp and hurtful right into the eyeball . His soothing, calming voice kept me
going as he began kneading just above the cheek bone and till I felt the
numbness spread, it was such sweet excruciating pain .
After that I can only remember
Rekha Bharadwaj crooning ( coincidence – both times her songs were playing as
the procedure began – Omkaara’s Namal Ishk ka and Daaarling from 7 Khoon Muaaf !!
Then the surgeon was telling me it’s over Mrs Venkatesh; that’s it . I will see you in a couple of hour’s time. Go and have lunch upstairs in your room.
That was it . The boys were then cheerfully Auntying me out of the room and making soothing noises as they wheeled me into the recovery area where Vinay and the beard ( all I could see from my horizontal position was lots of beard only, Vinay, what to do and that too with half an eye ) but oh boy was I happy to see him.
My trophy was of course a major sized bandage on my eye and a woozy feeling in my head as though I had downed four of my favourite Long island Ice Teas all at one go !!
Which reminds me haven't had one in a long time !!!


Gardenia said...

Viji go have a Long Island Iced Tea on me right away! Salaams to you!!Cheers, and thank you for making me laugh and laugh and teaching me again that it is good to smile through everthing.


You are brave, Viji.I for one am glad you don't have a third eye.
You and your bearded guard look good

flowergirl said...

Oh Viji, I shivered along with you, and went ouch as you got your poke.

GA for me. I am not so brave.

Venky said...

Feels so nice reading your post Viji Amma. Wishing you a speedy recovery.

Keshav Dixit said...

It sounds scarier than it could really have been

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Umesh K. Dubey said...

Read it a few months ago and again today when Raji reposted it. Superbly narrated... so sensitive , and yet sparkling with wit .

Kookie said...

I will soon be going in for cataract surgery. Find your post kind of reassuring . Still a bit jittery.