This month has been a blur to me. I can't believe it's going to be October in about 25 hours.
Left site and went to Phnom Penh to get a dermatological surgical procedure to remove my big mole on my upper back. There was a concern for malignant melanoma because the mole's been there since birth and slowly growing along with me.
September 7 - 14:
I continued to stay in Phnom Penh for a meeting and Peace Corps' Mid Service Training (MST). We, Peace Corps Volunteers, had training every day from morning to evening. Some days were more stressful than others, and we were always lacking in sleep and rest. I also had the opportunity to do follow up CT Scan and Ultrasounds about my kidney stone (refer to August's blog post for more info) and previously noted ovarian cyst.
September 15 - 16:
I returned to my site (village) with my friend Melino. We had a great time hanging out with my family, my students, and adventuring around Kampong Cham city.
I had to go to Phnom Penh again to remove my stitches from the mole surgical procedure.
I went back to work at my village's Health Center and had a normal day at work for 30 minutes before I got a call from the Peace Corps Medical Officer (PCMO). I was told that I need to go to Bangkok to meet with a specialist to talk about my ovarian cysts.
September 19 - 21:
I had been away from the village for so long, and now that I was back, it seemed I'm leaving again so soon. I also recently started my grant project so I had to prepare a to-do list for my counterparts too. I put a lot of effort in to spend time with my health center staff and host family in what little time I have left with them for that week. I had to hand wash all the laundry every day too, which is also dependent on the sun in this monsoon season. I could only wash a little bit each day. I had barely unpacked from the previous weekend, and I had to pack all over again.
I left the village at 7am with my usual Torry (minivan). 15 minutes into the ride, I realized I had left all my money at home so I had to tell the Torry driver to drive me home and help me pick it up. This is totally a "Classic Christine" move, but I'm just glad we caught it in time. I arrived to Phnom Penh had to run errands, such as going to the bank, buying some toiletries, catching up with a counterpart, and helping a sick friend. Not a bad day!
After meeting with the Peace Corps Medical officer in the morning, I left for Bangkok. It was a rather uneventful day. I went from Phnom Penh Airport to Bangkok Airport to my Peace Corps provided hotel. The highlight of my day was being able to go to my favorite 7/11 in Bangkok and buy my favorite onigiri Japanese snack for dinner.
September 24 - 27:
These four days consists of doctor's appointments and numerous tests to confirm and prepare for my cystectomy. Thankfully, my aunt arrived from Myanmar on Monday (Sep 24) evening to keep me company throughout this whole process. Every day, we were another waiting game. We finally decided on Thursday (Sep 28) that I would get my surgery on Friday (Sep 29). The surgery was done as preventative measure, rather than curative. If my cysts give me any trouble while I live in a rural village (with no or little emergency care), I am at risk of losing my ovaries. We all thought that this was the best course of action to take.
(Fun note: When I'm not doing medical tests, I was able to explore Bangkok and eat some of my favorite food. Definitely a nice break from all the serious business. I also ran into my Thai-American celebrity crush, who's currently living in South Korea and temporarily in Bangkok to shoot a commercial. Never in my wildest dreams I had expected to have an encounter like that!)
I was told to check in at 12:01am (yes, 1 minute after midnight) and got admitted to my hospital room at Bumrungrad Hospital. They started prepping me for my surgery since 4am. My surgery took about 2 hours, and it took me another 2 hours to become fully conscious. Everything went well. The surgeon took out a 7cm cyst from my right ovary and a 4cm one from my left. I was not allowed to eat or leave the bed, and I wasn't very happy about that. Fortunately, my aunt is also staying in the hospital room with me so I had a lot of help. Two of my uncles, an aunt-in-law, and a little adorable cousin came to visit me for a little while too. The day passed by quickly for me because of the pain killers. I was in and out of sleep for most of the day and night.
September 29 (Present):
Today was a great day. I woke up all refreshed and energized. The surgeon came to see me first thing in the morning and told me I could be off of my IV fluids, nonstop pain killers, and catheter. I was also allowed to walk (with help), go to the toilet by myself, and shower (carefully) too. The only downside is I can feel the pain more than yesterday and that they still put me on fluid-only diet for breakfast and lunch. Dinner was super delicious though (which is expected of a world class hospital). Since I'm already missing rice and don't really get to eat Salmon in Cambodia, I decided to order Japanese food: rice, baked salmon, miso soup, and stir fry potatoes and carrots. I felt especially extra happy and content after that. They also gave me more pain meds, so I'm definitely feeling comfortable too.
Right now, I'm writing this blog as I'm chilling in my hospital bed while my aunt is sitting next to me. We are having a Mission Impossible marathon ... and all is well!
I am recovering at a good pace. I'll most likely be discharged in a day or two. My follow up appointment will be in about 4-5 days. After that, I should be cleared to fly back to Cambodia and resume my service as a Peace Corps Volunteer.
SHOUT OUT TO PEACE CORPS AND ITS WONDERFUL MEDICAL CARE AND STAFF!