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Saturday, Nov. 24, 2007

JAPAN LITE

Inside and out


On the day of my operation, a nurse who had previously introduced herself to me as "Miyuki of the Nurse" helped me put on a hospital gown and I was then put under anesthesia.

There is no mistake why you go "under" anesthesia. It's not quite six feet under, but it's at least four. You're as good as temporarily dead, and in this condition, you are merely a giant rag doll the nurses have to deal with.

From here it was a two-hour operation to remove some UFOs that had taken up residence in my abdomen. It was a routine operation with little risk but required a two-week hospital stay.

After the operation, I woke up from the anesthesia to eight nurses flipping me up in the air. Miyuki of the Nurse was there, taking charge, "One! Two! Three!" she said, and all the nurses lifted the mattress up off the operating table and landed me onto a movable bed. Welcome to the recovery room!

This is when I noticed I was wearing my hospital yukata. Someone had changed my clothes! Now I know why you have to bring your own yukata: It's far better to wake up in your own clothes, than someone else's.

I was also amused to see that I was wearing disposable underwear and a belly belt. The belly belt was, I presumed, keeping my internal organs from escaping through the cuts in my belly. Otherwise, it could be really embarrassing: Excuse me ma'am, but did you realize your appendix is hanging out?

The belly belt wraps around the stomach in an arrangement of four layers. Very complicated. It's really more like a wrap than a belt. A beef taco wrap, hold the lettuce, to be exact.

It was a bit strange knowing that these doctors and nurses had seen my insides, something even I have never seen in my life! I could just picture the crowd of surgeons and assistants peering into my belly and the paparazzi taking photos. They probably even spied my uterus. No worries though, I bet my uterus is pretty cute.

For the next couple of days coming out from under the anesthesia, I could do absolutely nothing by myself. Miyuki of the Nurse and her band of nurses helped me get dressed, throw away the bloodied yukata, and even helped me use the toilet. My private parts became less private.

Nurses are amazing people. Hug the next one you see.

I also didn't feel like eating for days, which is the wonderful thing about anesthesia. I recommend it for curbing all those sinful desires such as drinking, smoking or overeating. I lost 2 kg without even realizing I had them to lose. It's like a new smart diet that gets rid of the fat before you can see it.

The other miracle was the IVs, which fed me all my nutrients in the days I didn't eat. I see no reason why we shouldn't be able to take them home with us for a more nutritious form of fast food on those days we are just too busy to cook. Or eat.

Meanwhile, the doctor came in every day and asked me personal questions about my bodily functions such as, "Have you passed gas today?" At first I thought this was very rude, and slightly intrusive, but once I started feeling golf-ball-size gas bubbles churning around in there trying to "pass," I realized this was an important step to recovery. I was glad I was still in the beef taco wrap, as at least the golf balls couldn't escape through the wrong openings.

The hospital care was superb. Miyuki of the Nurse and her band of pink butterflies fluttered in and out every hour checking on me and attending to my every need. They checked on me all through the night, peeking into my room at 12:00, 3:00 and 6:00 to make sure I hadn't been abducted, or carried off in Harry Potter's flying car.

For the next week I walked bent over like a 90-year-old obaachan. Which makes me wonder — maybe those obaachan just never had their stitches taken out.

At the end of the two weeks, when my stitches were out and I was walking up straight again, the doctor called me into his office at the hospital to discuss the details of the operation I had just undergone. He showed me pictures of the UFO invaders. As I looked at their mug shots, I couldn't help feel relieved we had captured them.

Then he brought out photos from the actual operation. The paparazzi photos were all there, and so clear — my stomach, my intestines and even my uterus! And it was absolutely the ugliest uterus in the world.

The doctor insisted I keep the photos, so I added them to my regular photo album which I now call, "Amy Chavez: inside and out."



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