"Nga, wake up," I heard a gentle voice whisper in my ear. "The catheter is in." I mustered a faint smile before drifting back into the anesthesia-induced slumber. As they wheeled my bed from the operating room to the recovery area, my hazy awareness was filled with echoes of celebratory words, signifying the success of the surgery.

Back in my room, my entire family awaited me. Everyone was jubilant, "You made it, dear. The catheter is in, and we won't have to proceed with the major bladder reconstruction surgery." My family was well aware of my medical condition. The doctor had tried valiantly to preserve my original bladder, but it had reached a point of no return. Everyone in the family was determined that this was the way to go, though it was a severe measure. Fortunately, it hadn't come to that yet. Dr. Quý had found a new solution - placing a JJ stent from the kidney to the bladder to drain urine.

About a week prior, the planned surgery took place. Initially projected to last 30 minutes, it stretched into one hour and then two, to no avail. Placing the JJ stent in my right kidney (due to radiation damage) proved immensely challenging, with the stent head distorted and stubbornly resistant to passage. That time, the operation wasn't successful. They managed to extract a bladder stone (a daunting task in itself, given my urethral damage from years of radiation treatment). I was forced to wear a urethral catheter to drain urine from my bladder.

The unsuccessful surgery deeply saddened Dr. Quý, who had tried his utmost to avoid a major reconstruction. He had even told me that the next step might be the final surgical solution - creating a neobladder. So, I returned home for a week of rest, handing over all responsibilities, preparing financially, and psyching myself up for the surgery. I was resolved that if this procedure failed, I would continue to fight and never give up, to not let down all those who loved and cared for me.

Then came July 25, 2023. I checked into the hospital, and at 1:30 PM, I was brought to the preparation room. Familiar and endearing faces filled the room, offering encouragement. "You've tried your best, now rest, take your medication, and rest assured, the team will handle everything," they said. The surgery began at 2 PM, with Dr. Quý (Urology Department) as the primary surgeon and Dr. Hưng (Radiology Department) alongside, along with other doctors and nurses. This was an extremely challenging operation, and the path to insert the stent was exceptionally difficult. Despite their persistence, they struggled to find a way to guide the stent into place. Fortunately, my big-hearted family, their love, and the doctors' determination prevailed. At 6 PM, they successfully inserted the stent, and with that, a heavy burden was lifted.

I was moved to the post-operative room until after 8 PM when I was finally transferred to my room. At 4 AM the next day, I awoke from the anesthesia, feeling light and happy that the doctors had achieved what they set out to do. Back in my room, Dr. Hiền (Internal Medicine Department) congratulated me. "You've tried so hard. Now rest. Your medications and care are all taken care of by our team." Life is truly unpredictable, and when facing death, it is your loved ones who remain by your side. They regard patients as their own, sharing in their pain, smiling when they overcome each stage of illness.

I extend my heartfelt thanks to Dr. Quý, the elder brother who dedicates himself to his profession, always seeking the best solutions, and worrying that I will be sick and unable to afford treatment. To Dr. Hiền and the nurses in the Internal Medicine Department, your words of encouragement, sharing, and genuine compassion have been an incredible source of strength for me. I am deeply grateful to Dr. Hưng from the Radiology Department, a young doctor with unparalleled skills, who has been there with me.

Once again, my most sincere gratitude goes out to the entire HFH team. Your dedication to your profession and your unwavering support throughout my journey battling this illness are truly appreciated. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. ❤️❤️❤️


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Ms. Bùi Thị Bích Nga
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