What bothers me most is not one day I am fine, another day I end up with a scar on my brow. What bothers me most is that I do not recall how it happened.
I was on a bicycle in the early Saturday morning. I must have been cycling pretty fast because when I collected my bicycle from the security guards who cared for me before the ambulance arrived, it was in the lowest gear (or was I really cycling fast at the moment of the accident?). The bicycle looks okay. In fact, while my face took the most hit, my body besides a few minor scratches with a bit of soreness was okay too.
If I were to fall off at a high speed, I would have ended up with some nasty scratches on my exposed arms and legs. According to eyewitnesses, I hit a pillar. But how? Wouldn’t the bicycle take the first hit? Wouldn’t I have hit my back while falling down? I was wearing a helmet. How would my eye get hit so badly?
I said I was being assaulted. But no one believes me.
Nothing was stolen though. Not my wallet, not my iPhone nor my Rolex. Just me fell unconscious with pools of blood next to me, according to a photo taken by one of the security guards (I don’t even want to know how my iPhone was being unlocked while I passed out).
I don’t recall riding in an ambulance. I was in and out of consciousness. I gradually gained the notion that I was in a hospital. The bright white light, lying on a bed, being wheeled to and fro. At one point, I heard a male Philipno nurse with a kind voice speaking to me, “Would you like a plastic surgeon? $500”. Whatever energy I have left, whatever brain power left I could process the information, I said, “Yes”.
It was probably one of the best decisions I have made in life.
I remembered doing an MRI. My first. I waited a long time until the plastic surgeon arrived. I didn’t get to see her face as she was wearing a mask. But I recalled seeing the physical scar on her arms. It looked like a burned mark. I couldn’t help but wonder: was it why she wanted to be a plastic surgeon?
27 stitches, I had. She told me that because she needed to stitch up my face, the stitches have to be close to each other. It took a long time. Towards the end, I could feel the pain. But I endured. (On the record, she has done an amazing job.)
In fact, after I was discharged, I was given three types of painkillers. The normal one. The stronger version. And the extreme version.
But I didn’t take any. Even the nurse who took out my 27 stitches one week later was impressed.
I don’t like painkillers unless I absolutely need to. I’d rather manage the pain instead.
Like thinking happy thoughts.
I was alone when I had my accident. I had someone, my angel, who couldn’t contact me, went around the neighborhood looking for me. Looking back, I am grateful. I am not alone. I contacted her in the end, when I gathered enough energy to do so.
Due to the blood loss, I was feeling weak after I left the hospital. Before I was discharged, I was told by the Accident & Emergency (A&E) that I would receive an SMS on my appointment to remove the stitches on Friday. I Googled. Stitches on the face area have to be taken out within a week.
I worked on Monday because there were important meetings. That was tough. So hard to present and focus, even without a webcam on.
I took the rest of the week off, a much-needed rest from my intense work life of mine.
On the following Friday, I waited for the SMS that never arrived till late morning. I couldn’t wait anymore so I called up Singapore General Hospital (SGH). The main line asked me to call A&E, which I did. A&E said that they have missed booking the appointment for me but I could turn out at Clinic H any time.
So, I cycled to SGH and headed to Clinic H at block 3. SGH is HUGE!
At the registration counter, I was told that I have no appointment. I explained my situation whereby I desperately needed the stitches to be removed. The receptionist disappeared to consult a doctor. After a while, she came out and told me that Clinic H doesn’t remove stitches. Clinic J does. Clinic H is “ophthalmology”. Clinic J is “plastic”. In my case, it is both “eye” and “plastic”.
Where is Clinic J? Just next door.
So I headed to Clinic J and repeated the entire process. They took my doctor’s referral letter (essential for insurance claims) and asked me to wait in front of the treatment room.
The plastic surgeon who attended to me was different from the one who operated on me. She did some basic diagnosis and said that I am ready for stitch removal. She asked if I wanted to book a follow-up appointment with her. At that point, I said no. And immediately, I regretted it.
The nurse who removed my 27 stitches asked me to count as she operated on me. To be honest, I would rather think happy thoughts. I like her though. She was from Malaysia now a Singapore citizen. She has been with SGH for 17 years. “Too long,” she said. “You look young,” I said. I meant it. At the end of the treatment, she asked if I wish to take a photo of the 27 stitches removed. I politely declined. She commented that black stitches are so hard to spot against my eyebrow. I agreed. She said the stitches should have been in red or blue color. To that, I also agreed.
Bad news. The receptionist has lost my letter of referral. I have to get it reprinted. Somewhere somehow.
After the treatment, I was told to visit the pharmacy to get my cream to minimize scarring. The doctor said that it would be expensive. $90 (more like $70). In a heartbeat, I said, “I want it”.
It’s for my face, for god’s sake.
It took me more than 1 hour to get a tube of cream.
At the A&E, it was chaotic. I explained to the nurses that Clinic J has lost my letter of referral. I needed it to be reprinted so that I could proceed with my insurance claim. Very grumpily – understandably so as A&E can be stressful – the nurse printed the letter and more.
According to the report – which I wouldn’t have a chance to read had Clinic J hadn’t lost my letter – the MRI scan was good.
After I got the letter, I had lunch and returned to Client J wanting to book an appointment with the plastic surgeon who “looked after me” in the morning. It took me a long time to recap the summary to the receptionist. Way too much effort. But at least I have the follow-up appointment booked.
With that, I cycled back home.
Timeline for reference.
10:45 – No SMS from SGH and hence called the main line.
11:45 – Got a queue number from Clinic H.
11:55 – Asked by Clinic H to approach Clinic J instead.
12:55 – Exited from treatment room with all stitches out.
13:05 – Arrived at the hospital pharmacy to collect my tube of cream.
14:15 – Got my cream from the pharmacy. Headed to A&E for the reprint of my letter of referral that Clinic J has lost.
14:50 – Had lunch at Coffee Bean. Tuna sandwitch with coffee, S$17.
15:15 – Finished lunch and headed home.