The Under-the-Knife Yabanci

They say there’s a first time for everything. Many people will have surgery of some kind during their lifetime. Until today, the closest I had ever been to surgery was getting a cavity filled, and that was only 2 years ago. 

Today I had my first kinda-real surgery. Does it still count as surgery if you are awake the whole time? I think it does. On Saturday, Canim (my fiance’s pseudonym for this blog. It’s a Turkish term of endearment, but we never use it with each other because I think it is too common) took me to the hospital to have a consultaiton with the doctor. In Turkey, it seems normal “well” visits and consultations occur within a hospital, so it just sounds more dramatic than it really is. I was all set to have my surgery that day, but the doctor couldn’t do it because he had a meeting. Uffff ya. That meant I had to wait two more days. That also meant I would not have Canim by my side to translate and to make me feel less nervous. 

Did you know it’s possible to be dizzy in your sleep? I was dizzy all night, even in my dreams. I woke up looking for relief, and found that my apartment was spinning and opening my eyes only made it worse. I swore I wasn’t nervous about the surgery, but I think my body was manifesting my anxiety in ways that beg to differ. I left work right before lunch and took a cab to the hospital. Grateful I had done a dry run before with Canim, I marched right up to where I needed to go, only to realize I had left my phone somewhere. Maybe in the taxi, maybe at work. So that led to me rummaging through my overstuffed (but not with money) wallet to find Canim’s business card because I am a dope who has not memorized a phone number since 2001. 

I tried to ask the receptionist for permission to use the phone, but at the first sign of my lack of Turkish, she called a translator, who emerged from the abyss only to announce that she had some sort of personal emergency and I had to wait. Thank God didn’t have an emergency! I tried to tell the receptionist that I could communicate exactly what I wanted, but she kept fluttering about, apologizing for not speaking English. Finally, and abruptly, I blurted,”TELEFON KULLANABILIR MIYIM?” That’s supposed to be Turkish for, “May I use your phone?” Surprised and amused, she let me use the phone and Canim once again swooped in to save the day and track down the taxi driver, who returned to the hospital 5 minutes before my appointment and gave me my phone while his new passengers looked at me with puzzled expressions on their faces. 

So the surgery. It was cosmetic in nature and my vanity definitely prompted me to get the consultation, but it was also necessary for health reasons. I’m trying not to think about how long I will have to wait for results and what those results will be. Instead, I will think about how creepy and surreal it was to actually hear someone putting stitches into my head (obviously close to my ear) while I felt absolutely nothing. It was also funny to learn that my doctor’s ringtone is Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black,” and I couldn’t help but wonder how well he understood English slang, because the beginning of that song is a little bit awkward in a professional setting. You can go ahead and Google the lyrics. 



He and his assistant talked QUITE a bit before thinking to ask me how much Turkish I understood. I heard him name the city where I am originally from and I made eye contact, which prompted them to ask how much I know, and they both looked a bit sheepish after that. Their conversation quickly turned to more mundane topics. The funny thing is I really didn’t understand THAT much of what they said, but cok ayip anyway for maybe saying something that they wouldn’t have wanted me to hear in my native language.  

I now have to spend the next four days going to the hospital for them to change my bandages. I have a Frankenstein-rag doll look going on. It is not cute. Hopefully (insallah) the stitches will come out on Thursday evening, in time for me to look somewhat normal when I fly across the country for a work-related conference this Friday. In the meantime, I will try to think of creative ways to style my hair (it can’t be washed for another two days…ugh) to hide the Frankenstein situation. This whole week will be a pain, but as I once heard a CEO-type mom telling her one-year-old son, “Sorry honey. You have to suffer to be beautiful.” Or in my case, beautiful and healthy. 

2 thoughts on “The Under-the-Knife Yabanci

  1. The idea of stepping into a Turkish hospital scares the sh*t out of me. I remember going to one when I was pregnant (back in 2001 which was incidentally the last time you memorized a telephone number) and that terrorised me so much I packed my bags and went back to Australia for the birth of my daughter!

    Hope auger well for you.

  2. I had a tummy tuck in 2009 and wasn’t scared (didn’t live in Turkey then though) then realized the Turkish way and also flew to the US to have my daughter 😉

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