Of Madness and Hope

 “Periosteal elevator, please.” I croak through the drone of my ventilated suit.

Scrub Nurse Erlinawati quickly unwraps a sterile tray and hands over the sharp instrument. Dr Kugan Ramachandran and I frown a few frowning moments, slicing dark red muscle away to reveal gleaming white bone beneath.

“Is the power saw ready?” I ask.

Bursts of movement fill my peripheral vision as Nurse Are Tul brings in a battery pack, but despite much fiddling with the heavy power tool, it refuses to start-up. 

I tease the patient’s median nerve out from it’s hiding place amid the flexor tendons. Kugan wrestles with a few small spurting vessels. 

For a moment, I think I hear the whirr of the oscillating saw blade, but it’s only the motor of MA Aizuddin Rahim ‘s Halo respirator coming to life. 

We finally make do with a handheld stainless steel saw, much the kind you used to cut wood in your school’s woodwork class. Soon, we are preparing the patient to be wheeled back to the Intensive Care Unit.

As I walk through the pressure barriers of the operating theatre and into the wet steam of the shower room, I overhear the nurses talking about the next case coming in for my obstetric colleagues – the fourth Caesarian section today to a COVID infected mother. 

COVID cases are on the rise, and the ICU beds rapidly filling. The four babies born today in our freshly emptied operating room have chosen to come into a world of chaos. 

I sit in my chair in the call room brooding a lot, and praying a little. Then I realise that in the beginning, there was chaos… into which God spoke- and the universe, the earth, and life were formed. 

It seems such a long time ago. 

But, could it be that the babies born today have come into more than a mad world of chaos. 

Perhaps they have come into a world of hope.

Originally written on 20 December 2020 in Sungai Buloh Hospital, Selangor

Image credits: The wise and wonderful OR nurses of Sungai Buloh Hospital