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Opinions of Monday, 15 March 2021

Columnist: Maxwell Maundy

You are never whole again

File photo: A surgical team made up of Doctors, Nurses, Anaesthetists File photo: A surgical team made up of Doctors, Nurses, Anaesthetists

Many years ago, I read a book on communication gaps or differences in conversational language between male/female, man/woman, or better still, husband and wife.

The story was told of a woman who underwent surgery and became depressed. She was always unhappy seeing the scars left on her body by the surgery. She said that the scars have become constant reminders of the pains she went through during surgery.

As she confided in her husband about her fears and insecurities, the husband said something, in his attempt to comfort the wife. But rather than offer comfort, the husband's words got the wife so outraged that for days she won't talk to him.

This is what the husband said:
"Darling, don't worry, you can have a plastic surgery to hide the scars."
However, when the wife reported her fears and insecurities to her female friend, the friend responded: "I know how it feels..." And these were the comforting words to the depressed woman now on the verge of suicide.

After preliminary examinations of my condition at the Emergency Unit of the Ridge Hospital, my doctor left to go and report her findings to her superiors and other members of the Surgical Team B.

When she (doctor) returned to report their decision to me, one of my Odade3 98 mate (alias David) had come to check on me at the hospital. My friend David was not pleased with the words used by the doctor. The doctor said:

"I've had discussions with my seniors and the team. Based on our suspicion, we have decided to proceed with surgery right away. As in the case of all surgical procedures, there may be a loss of blood or other unexpected eventualities. I'll therefore bring you a consent form to sign before we proceed."

As the doctor left, my friend David told me he's not happy with the word "suspect" used by the doctor. And that we should probe her to do further examinations, be it scans or X-rays to be sure surgery is needed, and not cut me with the knife based on "mere suspicion."

Now I'm coming to terms with the reasons why my good friend David would not want me to go under the knife, just on the basis of "suspicion," the scars of which however, might be lifelong.

Little did I know that, in the aftermath of a "cut," even simple things as "coughing" and "sneezing" would be impossible to do in the next few days. Sitting on the WC isn’t very much a problem, but what goes on whilst one sits on the WC must be done with utmost patience and gentility, not like before. Eating has become like that of a toddler - bits and pieces!

In the days after a "cut," one appreciates the virtues in the saying that, there's no hurry in life. Everything is done at a slow pace, like the tortoise! I've read articles, stories and literatures on surgery, that says:

"You Are Never Whole Again."

For this reason, I've always been scared of surgery. My love and crazy appetite for reading has taken me on journeys unend so much that, sometimes my own shadow scares me! I've had close encounters with horizons that are far beyond my reach. Truly, reading takes you to places you'll otherwise never dream of.

There had been few times in my life that I came close to the surgical knife, but end up escaping. First one was in 2002 during my first year at the University of Ghana. I had some health challenges and reported to the University of Ghana hospital. I was admitted for a day and then referred to Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital.

I was admitted to the surgical ward at Korle-Bu and put on medications through infusions. I had no one to visit or attend to me at the hospital (I was alone in the world then, thank God I now have ODADE3 brotherhood all around me)!

After 3 days of being on admission, I ran out of cash to buy more drugs. I was admitted on a Thursday, and after several infusions for 3 days, it became clear that doctors didn't have enough evidence to proceed with surgery.

During visiting hours on Sunday evening, I managed to sneak out of the hospital (with cannula on my hand) and went all the way to Pokuase (my birthplace) to look for money so as to pay for my final discharge bill. I returned to the hospital on Monday morning and got myself discharged.

My next trip to the surgical ward was sometime in 2009. I was giving a referral from my GP to the Royal London Hospital in White Chapel. I spent two days at the surgical ward and was discharged due to uncertainty. I had again narrowly escaped from the surgical knife!

Next was in December 2012. I was down with a severe groin pain, and ambulance picked me up from home to the Croydon University Hospital (formerly Mayday Hospital). I was sent straight to the surgical ward.

I was denied food for days because I would be sent to theatre any time. After several examinations couldn't prove anything concrete, doctors decided to do an MRI. My first MRI result came out and pointed to a problem at my back. A second MRI was done, which proved that I had Bulging Disc (slipped disc). After two weeks in the surgical ward, and having been starved the most my entire life, I was discharged. Again I narrowly escaped from the surgical knife!

During an appointment with the Orthopaedic Surgeon to explain to me in detail what a Bulging Disc is, he told me that my life would never be the same again, and that I could no longer continue my work as Picker at Tesco Dotcom. Truly, my life was put on a reset button.

I had become like a baby, now learning how to do things in life - walking, toileting, eating, lifting, etc. Everything I used to do with speed, I now do with counted steps. But in all these, God came through for me! I completely got healed and went back to work as Picker at Croydon Tesco Dotcom. During the two months healing process, I spent weeks at big brother Rekas’ (alias) house in Birmingham, West Midlands.

I also spent some weeks with my good friend Baidoo (alias) in Chatham, Kent. You'll enjoy these stories in detail in subsequent editions of my cutting edge Pan African Book DARKEST HUMANITY.

I had always lived in fear of the surgical knife. The thought of "never whole again" scares me to death. But all came crumbling on Friday the 19th of February 2021 at the Greater Accra Regional Hospital in Accra; that I had to face my fears now, or never!

Cowards die many times before their deaths. Indeed, I died many times to the surgical knife before my D-Day, the aftermath of which now lingers on. Dear Diary!

Lord, if I had a thousand tongues, it'd still not be enough to praise and thank you... I surrender all to YOU... Withholding nothing...