As I mentioned in my previous post, I chose to coincide my leave with my dad’s surgery.

This morning was the date of admission.  I had offered to drive my parents to the hospital, but my parents with their usual thrifty mode on, said that the roads will be too jammed up, finding a car park lot at the hospital will be too much of a hassle and will cost a bomb.

So off we went on our ‘world class’ public transport of LRT and MRT from Bukit Panjang to Outram.  The trip there was pretty uneventful, though it was fairly crowded during off-peak hours and we had to wait 5 minutes for the LRT and another 6 minutes for the MRT at Choa Chu Kang.

When we arrived at Outram and saw a queue for the free SGH shuttle service, we decided to walk up to the Admissions Office.  Along the way, I was surprised by the changes that were made since the last time I was there, which was more than a decade ago when I had to visit the Specialist Outpatient Clinic there for my thyroid condition.

It felt more like a shopping centre cum hotel than a hospital.  The Admissions Office was situated in the middle of everything.  There was a Kopitiam Food Court, an O’Briens Sandwich Bar, a Kaffe & Toast outlet, a Retail Pharmacy, which was super crowded like a sale was going on, and a Cheers convenience store.  There was not even a hint of the usual hospital/clinic/medicinal smell of antiseptic.  The only telltale sign that we were at a hospital were the signs pointing to various clinics and the hospital staff going about their usual routines.

The admission process felt like a hotel check-in. They checked for my dad’s record and booking for the surgery, and asked him to wait for the previous patient to be discharged first so that the bed is available for him.

Had lunch at O’Briens, since I have not had their sandwiches for quite some time and my mum never had it before.  Sort of regretting it after reading Julia’s post about the otah bun from Kaffe & Toast, which was just opposite O’Briens and I wrote them off as a Ya Kun clone when my mum asked what they were selling.  Will make it a point to try out their otah bun when I go visit my dad later in the week.

It only felt like a hospital when we made our way to the block where my dad was to be warded.  At the ground floor, the lifts were cordoned off and there was a queue for visitors to register their visits.  The scene looked something like the ones on the news when SARS and H1N1 hit the country.

We had to register our visits using our ICs, provide our contact numbers and were issued stickers for the first visiting hours session.  We were advised to return/swap our stickers if we intend to stay for the second visiting hours session.  As my dad is a new admission and he is to go to the OT the next day, we were allowed to stay beyond the visiting hours.

At the ward, it was business as usual with the nurse going through the motions with my dad on his particulars and admission.  The conversation with the ward doctor was a bit more interesting.  I found out more about my dad’s condition, the tests that he had to go through and the surgery to be performed.

Apparently, one of the valves in my dad’s heart is not functioning properly, which causes some of the blood to leak.  This causes the murmurs that led to the detection of my dad’s condition.  The surgery is to correct this problem by replacing the valve with an animal tissue valve.  Before going into surgery, he has to go through an angiogram procedure.  According to the doctor, this is done to check if my dad has any blocked arteries which can also be corrected during the same surgery.

Hospitals usually ward patients with the same condition together to facilitate the doctors going on their rounds.  There was this other patient who went through the same surgery by the same surgeon about a week ago.  He is due to be discharged tomorrow.  It is really reassuring to see him walking about normally and talking to us.  What really left an impression on us was the term he used to refer to his condition.  He called it lao hong in Hokkien, which means leaking air.  My mum and I nearly burst out laughing.

I really hope that my dad’s turn on the surgery table will be just as successful and he will be up and about in a week’s time and be ready to be discharged from the hospital.