Wednesday, August 15, 2018

ICU

           The first few memories that I had when I was conscious was that when I open my mouth, no voice came out. I couldn’t speak and my throat hurts. I could feel thick phlegm stuck at my throat, restricting my breathing. They had to use a suction machine and tubes to help suck out the phlegm from my throat through a hole that they puncture in the middle of my neck.  

            I could hardly move.  Muscles had wasted away due to lack of movement. They call it muscle atrophy.  I was bandaged from head to toe.  

         Once a while, a loud beeping sound could be heard from the left side of my room. I remembered my sister assuring me not to worry, and that the “beeping” means that the “medicine is finished”. Unbeknownst to me at that time, it was a multiple syringes pump dispenser for the different types of medications that were being administered to me through the right side of my neck. 
There was no emergency button at the ICU for the patient to press on, to buzz the nurses. One day, I had difficulty in breathing, was out of breath and no one was around. Feeling horrified with the realisation that I had survived the explosion, but would probably die of suffocation from my own phlegm, all I could do was to cough loudly to get the attention of the nurses. Even though I was struggling to breath, that was what I did. It felt like ages had passed before one of the nurses entered the room. That incident left a huge impact on me as I felt vulnerable and helpless. I was immobile and unable to communicate with anyone. It was indeed a frustrating time for me.   
Later, I learnt that I could only form a few words with my mouth to make the nurses understand what I wanted. The few words that I could use were “Cold”, “Hot” and “Water”. These few words were very important for me. 
I couldn’t drink water at that time. I was on drips. However, my mouth and throat were so dry that it felt so uncomfortable. It didn’t help that the air condition was so cold in the ICU.  The only thing that they could give me was some sort of thick liquid, just to wet my lips. I remember the first time they gave it to me, it felt so good. This liquid became my “Water” for a few weeks.
The person that gave me the most practical advice while at the ICU is my sister. I am lucky and grateful to have her. She would tell me to say and form only one or two words, as no one could understand what I was trying to say, and it end up frustrating me. As time goes by, my sister managed to read lip my words more than anyone else.
My sister informed me that I was lucky to be alive, that I sustained 80% burns. That 35% burns and above is considered critical. During the time in ICU, I had blood sepsis and nearly died a few times, after which my kidney failed and was on dialysis. Everyone was relieved that I managed to pull it through. The medical induced coma was around 2 and a half months.

Worried that I may be handicapped, I hesitatingly asked my sister, with my barely audible voice, “Did I lose any limb?”. 

“No, everything is intact”, my sister assured me. 

 “How about my face? I clearly remember the explosion happened in front of my face”, I asked, waiting to hear the bad news. 

 “Don’t worry sis, your face is fine, even though you sustained 80% burns to your body”, she assured me again.

Surprised by her answer, “Are you sure?” I questioned again. “Yes, don’t worry, your face is ok”, she had to reassure me.
I felt so grateful hearing this piece of information. For me, it is indeed unbelievable.
My house was another story, part of the wall collapsed due to the explosion, windows shattered, even the steel fence outside the house broke and fell on my car which was parked at the road side. The roof of my house had holes. Needless to say, the whole house had to be demolished and rebuilt again.  There were damages to my neighbours’ houses and even the windows of the house across the street were shattered.





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