i’ve spent half my life between two hospitals, in Mount Elizabeth on Orchard Road and in NUH where i have great memories of a godly, sinewy angmoh-cheena (Caucasian/Chinese) hybrid walking around in a cool doctor coat. i contemplated throwing myself down the stairs to injure myself when he said “are you sure you don’t want to stay here a little longer, sweetheart? i love having you around.”
if you think your nine year old girl is as innocent as her ponytails, think again. nine year old girls can recognise Ares/Eros-reincarnates charading as doctors.
i love having you around too, *slurp*
i even slapped on extra Johnsons & Johnsons baby cologne every morning before he went on his rounds. the purple bottle.
i started young.
but i digress! while Ravi and i were indulging in our routine Stuff Your Fat, Uncomfortable Selves on Narrow Sofa to Watch TV and poking each other in the face, on the forehead, in the stomach to see who buckles and whines like a baby first (because this is what true love calls for), i realised the fourth finger on my right hand was swollen.
i stopped torturing Ravi with my fatal pokes and stared at it. when did this happen?
“sayang, i think i just grew another tumour growth thingy.”
people from my childhood who randomly bump into me back in Singapore sometimes say “i remember you were always in a cast!”. what they really meant was i was constantly witnessed running around the canteen with my right arm in a sling and the other holding my freshly made Oreo ice-cream cone tightly.
simply put, i have too much nerves, my body keeps growing new nerves and sometimes they have nothing better to do but hang out at the same spot, stick together and become, essentially, what i now articulately refer to as a “tumour growth thingy”. they aren’t all that useless though, they do transmit pain, so i feel a lot more pain than i should when say, a spoon drops on the area. usually it means a mind-blowing kinda pain which knocks me off my feet.
i’ve had surgeries since i was 6 months old. then again at nine years of age. then again at 12. then my memory sorta fails me because it’s like going to the cinema too many times, i think i went under the knife again at 14. when i was 6 months old, the surgeon told my parents that the condition would return when i was 10. i was reacquainted with it a whole year earlier, after i got entangled in our rolling study chair. my dad was convinced it was my nanny’s fault, because she allowed me to fly around the house at high speeds on an office chair that usually rolls at 1mph. but really, it was just meant to come back.
i have all kinds of horrific blood spurting stories to tell (usually with glee), but i’ll save those for another day. i have a long W-scar along the length of my forearm which i usually attribute to a horrible, horrendous, unimaginably scary crocodile attack in the Amazon basin when i was 3. sometimes my brother adds details to that Brazilian excursion “because she was so young, she can’t remember” and unsuspecting people usually believe the lying pair of us.
the second doctor who operated on me when i was 9, at ME hospital kinda destroyed my arm and some of its functions, but let’s not go there. the W-scar he left behind was somewhat hideous. Professor Robert Pho of NUH saved my arm, tried to restore some functions back, removed more tumour thingies on my hand, fingers, arm and beautified the scars – so much so that many new people i meet don’t notice it till many weeks later. he’s also one of those older, good-looking, genius gentlemen, though i can barely hear 3/4 of what he says.
i don’t wish to jinx myself, but he might have been successful at stopping its spread beyond my elbow, though it was made clear that this is something i’d have to go through again and again for the rest of my life. just limited to my forearm.
i can’t make a fist, i can’t play the piano anymore, i can’t bend my hand or high-five gracefully, i can’t chop onions properly, i can’t carry heavy stuff, rock-climbing won’t be at the top of my To Do Before I Die list, shaking hands with new people can be difficult, but i can do the most important thing with my right hand – i can write. and that’s all i need. oh, and i can eat. hahaha.
shortly after the last surgery when i was 14, another tumour grew on my baby finger, right at the top. we decided to leave it as it didn’t cause me much discomfort, except for the occasional pain after i slamdunk Ravi on our cold floor. it also makes my baby finger look like an obese baby finger that can’t stand up straight. it’s become part of me, part of who i am. i also let friends touch it. i haven’t had any visible new growths since then.
till i found this new upstart yesterday.
it could mean there are others that aren’t visible, just like that time one small bump = an entire forearm of hidden alien nerve balls. or if i’m lucky, it could just be two small lumps on two small fingers.
i’m gonna have so many pirate scars by the time i’m 40, i can start collecting stories about Amazon and Everest monsters to tell new people i’ll meet.
(sung to Simon & Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence”. all hail Simon & Garfunkel, Lords of Musicworld.)
hello tumours my old friend
you’ve come to stalk me again
because in dali’s bones slowly creaking
you’ve been growing while i was happily living
and the pain i’m feeling that sometimes makes me faint
is more than an ache
but I Feel No Dread
i know we’ve been together for so long
but i don’t think you should stay on
because i’d like to do a lotta things
like maybe rock-climbing, avalanche-skiing
so maybe if you don’t mind it at all i’d like to see Professor Pho
so I Will Feel No Dread
and in the halls of NUH
maybe i’ll spot Doctor Eros
whom i can now ask for a coffee date
although i’m married and it’s far too late
but a coffee with a godly man won’t hurt
and maybe i’ll forget
the feeling of Dreh-aad
my moment of corniness has to be cut short now because i’ve got a date with Intan at Mall of Emirates, or as i like to call it, Mall of the Expenses. you never leave without buying something new. never.