Clinical chemistry

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Five

My mother’s spirit is now outside her body. Her physical self is what is left for the doctors to work on. An 80 years old person has now become pure clinical chemistry, making up of percentages of sodium, potassium, chloride, creatine, bilirubin etc… . It is now all about reading blood pressure and heart beat numbers. The first thing the doctors look for are the numbers; what is plotted on yards of different colour graph lines; viewing many digital monitors and their out puts. Warning alarms and flashing red lights are going on and off all the time.

The doctors often seemed uncertain and perhaps lost. But they always have to put on a confident face to face the group of nurses and training doctors waiting for new instructions. Then the nurses busy themselves adjusting all the tubes, needles and pressure gauges. On one occasion the surgeon turns round, to say to me, ‘Your mother has O tolerance level of mistakes in the medication. We have to get the figures spot on, not one degree more or less, with your mother. Other patients have a higher tolerance for few degrees up or down. Some days they are reassuring, ‘Well the numbers are looking good to day and are in a stable position’. But you also hear them say, ‘well all the figures are looking right, only the number of her age is not’.

My measure of my mother’s conditions is when I am holding or touching different parts of her body – her face, shoulder, stomach, legs, hands and fingers. I could feel from the touch the condition of her skin, if she was water logged and that there was a built up of toxin which her kidney or liver could not handle. Then after a dialysis session, when the poisonous substances have been pumped out, her body is back to the normal feel and touch. But then, her soul is still far from home.

The colour of blood

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Four

My body is lying on a hospital bed but my spirit is somewhere else. The bed could be in the CICU or in any room, on any floor in the hospital. My unconsciousness is roaming in every direction, up and down stairways, in and out of corridors and rooms. There are numberless other wondering souls like me in this location.

Some of these phantoms have been around for a long time, perhaps at the beginning of this hospital or even earlier. Each one has a story of their own. Everyone’s life is a patchwork with a mixture of a little happiness and sorrow, some mistakes and successes, at times being brave and at other times a coward and occasionally generous, but often selfish.

Out here, there are the vary young to the old, like me. There are many even much older. It’s also a vary mix ethnical community. But what is wonderful about the spirit world is that the difference among us is not evident. In essence, we are all transparent, formless and colourless, except for the colour of our blood. All one sees is a pulsating ocean of red.

We often forget that that was the beginning of the first nine months of our own life, in our mother’s womb; in a sea of blood. At the end of one’s life, we also go back to a universe of red. This vital fluid is perhaps the binding force of our human existence.

Waiting

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Three

I have been waiting in various waiting areas in the hospital for the last five weeks. Sometime I am waiting to see my mother, to look at her and to find out what condition she is in. At other times, I am lingering around, for a chance to see the doctor or surgeon, to inquire about the situation of my mother’s health, who is under their care. There are times when I am delayed by the nurses, who are attending to my mother, to finish what ever they are doing, so I could get into the room, to meet my mother.

Most of the time, I am just hanging around, in the hospital, hoping to see my mother come round the corner, in her unconsciousness. There are moments that I pause, when she moves just her eye lids, either the left eye or the right, just for a few seconds. Often it is a real pleasure to watch her move her body like a snake gliding over a surface. She would surprise me, occasionally, when she slightly pulls up both her legs or moves her shoulder and arms.

The best thing about all the waiting is when she opens (for a brief moment) both her eyes wide, moves her lips and also moves her head to one side. I would then quickly call her name (a bit louder) and tell her that I am by her side, waiting for her to wake up. Her reply to my calls is always a blank stare and silence. Perhaps I am hoping for a simple answer from her, such as, to tell me that she is well or she is in pain and could I get some help for her pains and discomforts. But her silence may be an indication that her situation is not easy to resolve, medically and emotionally, and that perhaps there are just no remedies or answers.

Coma

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Two

After my coronary surgery, I have been in a coma. It has been 34 days and my consciousness seemed not in a hurry to either get back into or come out of my body. This is the secretive side of the human body – the spirit. In medical terms, there are many possible reasons for my condition. It could have been the effects of the anesthetic drugs, the antibiotics, the risk of surgery, my age etc… .

On top of it, my kidney and my liver are both a bit dizzy. So I have been on and off the kidney and liver dialysis machines, in the last five weeks. To add to it, I had a rush of gastric bleeding, in the middle of all this. It may also have led to some bleeding in my brain. My heart beat and blood pressure are erratic and I am supported by a ventilator system.

My body has no tolerance of any excess of any type of drugs at the moment. I am what they called ‘vary fragile’. It means that I am in a muddled state medically and physically and is giddy too. In another words, I am in a critical condition, in the CICU and I have become just numbers, graphs, and clinical chemical statistics. Surely, this is not all that there is to a human being? Are there no instruments that can weight up the human spirit, soul or consciousness?

Blood arteries

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One

I am in the hospital for a heart bypass. I am 76 (on my IC), but my real age is 80. My doctors have all agreed that I am a good candidate for a coronary bypass, as I am still fit and strong. In the last eight years, I have been on a cocktail of medication for my angina and it had work pretty well, but recently the problem became acute and life threatening.

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I agreed to this ‘plumbing job’ with some small reservation. My son and daughter both have their families, and they are also happy with my decision and are supportive. I have lived a good long life. I have been in danger, many times before, and this is not the last one either. At this age, I can take another risk with my life and the out come is well worth it. I might live for another 5 to 10 years? There is now a 95% success rate in this kind of surgery.

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On 31 October, 2006, along the way to the operating theater, lying on my hospital bed, I had to pass through many long corridors and had to be in and out of lifts. But, in no time, I was also going into the deep recesses of my body and my consciousness. What happened next are a mystery of medical science and a secret of the human body.