Friends and relatives kept thronging in and the situation peaked on the night of surgery when his secondary school-mates jammed the room in one go. I was at my wits end and couldn't stand the commotion anymore. I was purely reticent. I shut myself up and totally ignored them. I was almost in a state of stupor. My eyes were closed but my ears could hear the multiple conversations around me, only that the sounds were reduced to irritating noise with a capital N!
Astonishingly, Azmi managed to entertain them albeit sitting on the hospital bed, enduring his headache. I knew I was rude and utterly unbecoming. In short, I wasn't my normal accommodative self. Suddenly, I felt a sudden wave of anger inside me, as though I hated them for taking the precious few hours I have left with my husband before surgery. When there was no sign of them leaving at all, I left the room and sought refuge in the corridor, all alone.
I know I was behaving rottenly but I was also rueful at the same time. I just couldn't help it. Sorry folks!
It was the surgery day. I was feeling rather apprehensive. The atmosphere in the room was almost gloomy, as though the sky outside was casting dark clouds. Unspoken feelings of worry and apprehension kept creeping in my mind and I assume, in the others too. I can't recall vividly what explicitly happened that particular morning but for sure, everything went around in a blurry fashion.
Late in the morning, close relatives trickled in, with the intention to see him off for the surgery. As always, Azmi's brother's were good at cracking wise jokes, making us forget about the surgery momentarily but much to the chagrin of an uncle who prefers to adopt a somber mood as he feels (I think) a serious occasion needs to be addressed appropriately.
To avoid the same commotion as the night before, whereby visitors swarmed the room like bees, i begged for the no visitor sign, only allowing close relatives only. Once, a family of friends came, bringing a bottle of water blessed with Surah Yassin. Letting Azmi rest in the room, I entertained them outside. In between conversation, I entered the room and wet his face with the blessed water. When he knew of their presence, he adamantly went out and greeted them. Sigh. One might wonder what the no-visitor-sign was for eh?
It was already 12.30pm and I signaled to Azmi that he needed to get ready. I requested one of his brothers to politely ask the rest to leave the room as we needed time for ourselves. after shaving and making ablution, Azmi waited for dzuhur to perform both dzuhur and asar combined. Azmi jokingly said that it was as though he was preparing for wukuf at Hajj. After praying, he made use of what time left to make small talks with my kids and also to beg forgiveness from my parents. When he uttered that he have always treated my mom like his own, she reacted vigorously and cried. My dad was more composed and even made an insightful remark,"Insyallah, you'll get through this unscathed. You still have got heaps more to do in this world".
At 2.15 pm, the nurses came pushing in the OT bed and made him lie down. Wearing the OT gown and cap, he was set to go. I moved alongside the bed, holding his hands and saying whatever dzikir I know. It was at this moment that I couldn't hold my welled up tears anymore. At the OT entrance, i gave my salam and in between rolling tears I told him that insyallah I'll be seeing him back after 3 hours, the estimated surgery time. Then, everyone else, whom by now was teary eyed, gave him a final embrace. Dr Zurin who was observing patiently at the side, must be thinking that this was the longest sending off goodbye he had ever witnessed!
It was probably the longest 4 hours of my life, in which I filled with saying dzikir in an adjacent waiting lounge or resting in the ward upstairs. At one point, I became so restless and paced the corridor endlessly, disregarding of what people might think of me. I kept checking the OT entrance, wanting to know of the surgery progress.
At almost 7 pm, I saw a sudden glimpse of Dr Solahuddin and in all excitement, I almost ran towards him. "ALhamdulillah, all went well" he said. He was in a haste to go back to Tawakkal to perform a tracheostomy on a patient. Moments later, Dr Zurin beckoned my children and I, towards him and showed us the specimen of the tumor. It was resected piece-meal and looked very much friable. "All in, the operation was a success" he said, conveying us the good news. Minutes later, Dr Helmi, the anesthetist, pushed Azmi out, still intubated and unconscious. As he had difficulties to wake up after the anesthetic reversal plus being not accustomed to breathing through the mouth (trans-sphenoidal surgery requires nasal packing to arrest bleeding), they had to keep him intubated till in the ICU. As they needed time to extubate him, we were adviced to go back and perform our maghrib prayers.
When I got to see him later, he was still in a very much drowsy state with a very slurred speech and incoherent gestures. However, he still managed to extend his hand towards my mum's when he saw her. As visiting hours was over for ICU, we left him to the nurses. Apparently at 2 am, he became fully awake and alert and asked for me. However in spite of his condition he was still thoughtful and cautioned the nurses to not wake me if I was asleep.
Next: 1st day post-op: Looking out for Diabetes Insipidus