After finally convincing Dr. E – the specialist surgeon we’d been consulting about the removal of Miki’s breast lesion – that Miki and her Alters weren’t likely to go all psychotic on everyone in the Theatre room, and try and reenact a scene from one of the SAW movies, surgery was scheduled for 30-Apr-2015.
I’d spent some time the previous week arranging the overdraft facilities for the bank, then paying the doctor, hospital, pathologist, anesthetist, etc. It was the first time I’d taken out a direct overdraft facility with my bank, and I felt very nervous about the financial situation it would leave us in. But, needs be.
The day before the operation, I’d asked Miki where her pajamas, robe and slippers were – she’d need those in the hospital, even for a day operation. She said she didn’t have any. She was shying away from thinking about the operation and so hadn’t made any preparations at all. She’d thought that by not thinking about the operation she could keep the stress levels down. But, that hadn’t worked – the last two weeks had been almost emotionally unbearable – and she was still unprepared.
I gave her my credit card and sent her down the road to buy the items required. She was lucky enough to find some really nice bed clothing. By that evening we were packed and ready to leave early the next morning. We had to be at the hospital by 06:30 for admissions, etc.
Kai woke me around 03:30, and I battled with him for an hour before he finally settled back to sleep. That upset my internal alarm clock and I only woke fully at 05:58. It was dark outside and a light drizzle had settled over the city, limiting visibility to just a city block or two, and covering the asphalt in oil slicks, and shimmering, reflected lights.
“Sweetie, wake up.” I quietly nudged Miki awake, trying not to disturb the kids.
“Huh, what’s the time?” She replied, sleepily.
She sat bolt upright in bed. “What the hell, I was supposed to be awake at 05:00 to get ready. Why didn’t you wake me up?” She hissed accusatorily at me, Lydia was present.
Some reply about her new iPhone also having an alarm flashed through my mind, but I just said, “It’s OK, Lydia, there’s enough time. Just be quiet so we don’t wake the kids.”
“She burst out of the room, and into the bathroom, shutting the door noisily behind her.
I was ready by 06:10, and I sat down to wait. I hoped there was as much dressing happening in the bathroom as there was swearing and bashing. I could hear brushes being thrown around; perfume bottles banging on the counter; lip-gloss and eyeliners being thrown in and out of cosmetic bags.
At 06:20, I quietly knocked on the bathroom door and slipped inside. I found Lydia changing out of one outfit into another. This is quite common as all the Alters have different styles and different ideas of what should be worn and what looks ridiculous. It’s usually OK, but today we were pressed for time.
“Sweetie, you need to decide what you’re wearing. You look just great. We have to go in a few minutes.” I said to her quietly and calmly, hoping to coax her into some forward motion. At that moment, she was just spinning her wheels, going sideways.
“That looks great. Make-up finished?” I asked innocently.
“Not yet.” Icy reply.
“Bags ready, I’m ready. We’re all set, as soon as you are, sweetie.” I kept the gentle pressure up, and opened the bathroom door, my body language making it clear that we were on our way soon.
Quick dab of lip-gloss, then she gathered all her toiletries up and threw them into her bag, and stormed out of the bathroom. I steered her straight for the lift, hitting the call button, keeping the momentum going. We were down on the street a minute later.
“I had to park around the corner, do you want to wait here, while I bring the car around?”
“No, I’ll walk with you, it’ll be quicker.” She said, matching my stride.
I offered her my hand. She refused it but then seconds later grabbed my arm when we had to cross the road. The hospital was only two minutes up the road – we weren’t actually behind schedule by much at all. As we got into the hospital parking lot, Miki started to freak out.
“I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I can’t do this.” She kept repeating over and over, hysterically, her hands gripping the front dashboard, head whipping around wildly. 7’teen had presented, hysterically afraid.
“It’s OK, 7’teen. You’re going to be just fine. Just take it easy and breathe slowly. We’re just going to park here and then walk into the lifts. It’ll be easy.” I hoped I was going to be able to deal with 7’teen when it came to getting her out of the car.
I parked, grabbed her bags out of the boot and opened the door for her.
“7’teen, I need Erin to come out now. Erin, you need to come out. Erin.” I said quite firmly as I leaned over and loosened her seatbelt. She relaxed her grip on the dashboard, gave me a weak smile and a ‘thumbs-up’ sign. It was OK, Erin had presented. I breathed a quick sigh of relief and directed her out of the car and towards the elevators.
Main Admissions was empty and the paperwork went very quickly. There was a bit of confusion between Miki and Erin: Erin signed the patient consent form first; then a few seconds later Miki resigned it. But the admissions clerk didn’t comment and ten minutes later we were up on the 9th floor, Ward B, being shown to her bed.
She was given a back-to-front hospital gown to change into, and a urine sample cup to fill. Nurses bustled around her taking observations: blood pressure, hemo glucose levels, and iron levels. Erin threatened to beat the male nurse who gave her the finger-prick tests if he hurt her. Ashleigh, a very friendly enrolled nurse was tasked with filling out the clinical paperwork.
The Anesthetist came over to interview Miki. We had to remind her that Miki wasn’t scheduled for a General Anesthetic (GA), in fact, was having the entire procedure under Local Anesthetic (LA). She was a bit shocked, but assured us she would still be on hand to ensure everything went OK.
By 08:30, Miki was ready for surgery and had been allocated the first slot in Theatre. Miki’s bed was wheeled up to the 11th floor Theatre. I was allowed to wait with her in the holding area, until Dr. E arrived. While we were waiting Miki switched to Angel Eyes, and curled into the bed, looking a little scared and overwhelmed. One of the older Sisters on duty must’ve noticed something because she came over with a spare blanket, wrapped it over her, gently stroked her hair and gave her a light kiss on her head, telling her everything was fine, just like you would with a young child.
Dr. E slipped in, and two nurses took hold of Miki’s bed. Erin was back; I gave her a quick kiss, and then she was whisked away from me, into the main Theatre area. I went outside to the waiting area and sat down on a couch. I was expecting to be there for a while.
They first gave Erin a small dose of Dormicum, a sedative via IV to make the administration of the local anesthetic to her breast slightly less painful. Erin closed her eyes and promptly fell asleep. The surgeon sliced Miki’s breast open, and removed a ¾ golf ball sized tumor. During the last pull, or cut of removing the tumor, Miki presented again, wide awake.
“Ouch, that pinched a bit. Are you finished?” She asked Dr. E, bight-eyed.
“Yes, you slept through it.” Dr. E smiled back at her and started the process of stitching her incision closed, and covering it in a sterile dressing. Miki had a chance to look around the Theatre: pretty standard, sterile environment; monitors overhead; bright light directed onto her chest; and trays of sterile equipment surrounded her. One wall of the Theatre was glass, overlooking the Waterfront from the 11th floor – what a spectacular view, Miki thought to herself, gazing up at gray overhanging clouds and the tendrils of fog snaking their way through the buildings below. The surgeon and sisters continued their quiet, rather mundane chatter as they finished closing up Miki’s breast.
When the procedure was complete, Dr. E came outside to show me the tumor. It was quite large, spheroid, composed of white and gray bumps and whorls. It looked like a small brain. She was quite proud of how the procedure had gone. She’d exposed herself to a bit of reputational risk, and had been working outside her comfort zone, not understanding how Miki might react to the Theatre environment, and how it might impact the surgery but it had gone perfectly, and she was pleased.
Inside the Theatre, Lizelle, the surgeon’s main attending nurse, approached Miki and privately spoke to her. “I noticed that one minute you were asleep and then the next, you were wide awake, chatty even. Did that have anything to do with your D.I.D?” She asked, quite shyly, a bit nervously.
“Yeah” Miki replied, trying to explain, “that’s part of the D.I.D, I switch from persona to persona a bit.”
“Yes, because Dr. E…” Lizelle obviously wanted to carry on the conversation but another nurse walked in and interrupted their privacy.
They wheeled Miki out of Theatre to where I was waiting and we all proceeded back to the ward, Miki smiling and chatting all the way down. In the ward, she couldn’t stop talking. I could see she was feeling a bit manic. She said she was starving and sent me off to get breakfast, which I did: a pie, some juice and a chocolate. Not the healthiest breakfast, but it was all the canteen could serve up as take away.
When I got back upstairs, Miki was asleep again, but she stirred as I stepped through the privacy curtain. She looked at me, slightly groggily.
“I brought you the breakfast you ordered.”
“Yeuck, no thanks,” she said, slurring her words a bit. Erin was obviously present again and feeling the effects of the sedative still.
“No worries, I’ll leave it here on the bedside table. You can have it whenever you want.” I placed the food down next to her. “Get some sleep if you need it, there’s no hurry to go anywhere.”
She closed her eyes for a few minutes. I thought she was going back to sleep, but a few minutes later, her eyes snapped back open.
“Where’s that food I asked for?” Miki was back, wide awake, and starving. She ate her pie and chocolate, chattering around mouthfuls. She was slightly manic again. I’ve always been fascinated by the subtle physiological differences between Alters. This was strongest example to date: Erin sedated, slightly groggy and not at all hungry; Miki manic, wide-awake and starving.
We had to remain in the ward until Dr. E came through to make sure everything was OK, so we chatted quietly. I was feeling very relaxed now that the operation was over, and it had gone well. At around noon, an orderly walked in with lunch; the smell of beef stew and rice wafting in through the ward ahead of her.
Miki sat up straight, a big smile spread across her face. “It smells just like Mummy’s food. May I please, please, have some?” She pleaded with me. I looked at her closely; Angel Eyes had presented. It must’ve been the smell that triggered her.
“Sure sweetie,” I said, bringing the tray over and placing it on her lap. “Smells great.”
Angel Eyes started into the food with gusto, obviously enjoying it. She was beaming as she fed forkfuls of beef stew into her mouth and chewed vigorously. But ¾ of the way through the meal, she suddenly stopped, gagged, put her hand to her mouth and pushed the tray away from her.
“Was I eating that?” She asked, after finally forcing the last mouthful down. Miki was present again.
“Yeah, Angel Eyes said it reminded her of Ma’s food. She was really enjoying it too.”
“I’d never eat hospital food,” she said, shocked.
By 12:30, Dr. E had checked in on Miki, declared her ready for discharge, and arranged for a follow-up consult the next Monday. She changed back into her normal clothes and we were ready to leave 10 minutes later.
We were both pleased at how well the operation had gone, and how well Miki was feeling having opted just for the LA. But, we were both asking each other why: what was the point of the whole exercise. Sure, the surgery was to clear up the cancer, and that had been successful, but what was the point of getting cancer in the first place? It had just placed huge emotional strain on us for the last two months. It hadn’t provided us with any great life lessons, or improved our lives at all. It had just been a huge hurdle to get over, with no obvious benefits.