Just thought I’d make a quick update before posting a proper report on the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) Selangor Branch Open Day which took place on World Environment Day (5th June 2010).
I’m back from the brink after undergoing a bone graft at the Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital in Klang. I had a piece of bone grafted from my chin to my upper jaw. From the Chronology of Events below, you can see what a troublesome youngster I must have been and imagine the kind of trauma my teeth must have suffered:
1987: Broke both front teeth trying to execute a stunt I watched the lion dancers do during the Chinese New Year. Teeth duly crowned.
1993: Broke both crowned front teeth in a skateboarding accident in which I crashed into my friend David and smashed my teeth against the back of his head. Teeth crowned for second time.
1995: Chipped the re-crowned front teeth falling off my racing bike after getting hit by a motorcycle while cycling home from school at high speed. Teeth crowned for the 3rd time.
2000: Cracked both front teeth again at the SPCA when a Doberman I was trying to guide into his kennel bucked and hit my lower jaw with the top of his head. Remedial work to crown carried out.
2003: Found my front teeth in pain after a night out at the pub. Discovered that infection had set in – teeth cracked at least a week ago, not sure how. Antibiotics administered and remedial work carried out to crowned teeth.
2009: Left front tooth broke while having a cold drink outside the SPCA. Consulted my usual dentist, Dr. Thomas, and opted for a dental implant as temporary dentures inconvenient and right front tooth not trusted not to break if bridging done.
2010: Bone density probe conducted. Upper jaw is on strike and has had enough. Trauma from various accidents has resulted in there being no intact bone left in upper jaw. Upper jaw so perforated that the insertion of a dental implant would shatter the whole jaw. Bone graft advised. Advice accepted. Buddies duly informed. Family kept in the dark so as to spare them unnecessary worry.
My buddy Sheela P. was recruited to drive me to the hospital and back on the date of the surgery, 10th June. I was put under general anaesthetic at 0745 hrs and woke up sometime around 1530 hrs in immense discomfort in the ward. Was informed I puked copiously upon regaining consciousness. Was too groggy to care. Sheela made a timely reappearance when I came around and attended to me and pushed me around in the wheelchair without complaint. Turned down all offers of food from the hospital orderlies as none of the food offered was suitably meatless. Kept griping about wanting to go home and wanting to go to the SPCA this weekend. Updated my Facebook status via ‘Berry and accepted, with much gratitude, a phone call from That Special Someone, who wanted to make sure I survived the surgery. Was put on yet another round of IV drips although what I really wanted was potato chips and Coke.
Persuaded a very tired Sheela to go home at 1930h as she had been waiting with me the whole day. Sheela left only after Vegan Eugene and Mary agreed to come and pick me up. Nurses informed me that they were not authorised to discharge me from hospital. Requested to be removed from IV drips. Started walking slowly up and down the ward to persuade the nurses (and myself) that I would not faint if allowed to go home.
Walked to bathroom, showered, changed back into my t-shirt, jeans and trainers and requested again, with much restraint and courtesy, to be discharged. Informed the nurses that if I could do all that on my own without fainting, they could trust me not to faint when I got home. Nurses looked at each other and at me with disbelief, shook their heads and proceeded to get the papers signed to allow me to go home. Hurray! I may be a vegetarian and a teetotaller but I still kick ass!
Collected my medication from the hospital pharmacy, paid my bills, and walked (somewhat unsteadily, I must admit), to the cab stand to wait for my buddies at 2100 hrs.
Vegan Eugene and Mary spotted me from half a mile away thanks to the size of my swollen face. Reached my Bachelor Pad around 2230 hrs, very relieved to be home. Proceeded to clean the Bachelor Pad and feed the Rowdies, who were very curious about my bandage and were extra gentle around me.
Curiously enough, despite the discomfort I am in, the pain wasn’t as bad as I was told it would be. It could be that I have a high threshold of pain. After all, I don’t know many other people who have fallen asleep in the tattoo parlour while their backs are being tattooed, or anyone who could remain relatively cheerful and talkative while undergoing a root canal operation.
The subsequent few days were pretty awful, maybe because I couldn’t come to terms with the fact that I didn’t bounce back as quickly as I thought I would. My face ballooned to twice its size, making simple tasks like putting on a shirt close to Herculean. I spent most of my time on housework and trying to complete some files that I brought home from the office, because outdoor activities would increase the risk of infection. I had to miss the Casualty Evacuation Workshop at the MNS Urban Nature Centre. I had to miss helping out at the SPCA for a week. I had to miss my friend Ainul’s wedding and my buddy and partner-in-crime Amarjit’s farewell party. I couldn’t swim, cycle, skate or play football. I guess this is how restless the Phantom of the Opera must have felt, confined to his little hideout in the lake under the opera house, not being able to come out and party. I guess I could qualify as a chronically tone-deaf counterpart of the Phantom. There were moments when I felt as though I was never going to get any better.
I did, however, develop my own method of changing the dressing on my wound. It involved laying surgical tape, gauze and ointment out on my palm like an open-face sandwich and slapping everything onto my chin in the general location of the incision. Unconventional, but it has worked for me so far.
I don’t intend to be out of action for long. Next week I will be back at work, doing what I love best – serving some of the world’s most vulnerable people. Next week I will be back at the SPCA, guiding the new volunteers and helping the animals stay clean and healthy. Next week I will have parties to attend, friends to meet up with and assignments to complete. Powered by soup and mashed potatoes, I will be ready to take on the world again.