When the doctor mouthed the precautionary steps to both my parents, steadfastly at 128bpm, all I could hear was a drowning bass-baritone voice behind the disposable surgical mask. Dr Lee had me at the C word. All else that he had to say about his 58/C/Male patient, I know already all too well. I had read up possibly all articles that resulted in between page 1 and page 20 of Google search when you key in "cirrhosis" and "liver cancer" to prepare myself for this doctor's appointment. But nothing could prepare us for losing a parent. I don't need an ambulance siren to warn me of this; I am losing my Dad.
By the time we were queuing up for the next appointment date with the extremely overworked and incredibly underrated nurses, Dad had already shapeshifted back to his usual without-a-care self and cracked a joke about Mum being his Secretary of State.
Ironically, Mum is hardly the principal advisor to Dad. This pair of baby boomers is happily fulfilling their stereotypical gender role ideologies. Mum is nurturing, caring, social, and emotional, while Dad is well, Dad.
Mum thinks that Dad listens to me more than he does her because, sayang. Though, I feel that we connect better because we are both aggressive, instinctual, headstrong, and casual. No DNA test necessary.
The responsibility of making sure he takes his health seriously enough to make lifestyle changes seem to find itself resting squarely on my shoulders as his firstborn. It gets heavy but I can only carry the weight because I take after Mum too.
Mum has more patience than the both of us, so she was still in the line. Dad was poring over medical apparatuses that were on display and I wandered reading colourful infographics on the waiting hall wall that tell me I should stop drinking...
The hall is decked out in rows after rows of deep blue coloured benches that look like they've been there since the 60s when PPUM first opened doors. Probably untrue, but the seats are wrinkled like they, too, have aged from waiting far too long to get their numbers called. The average waiting time inside these cold walls despite having set an appointment with a designated doctor takes about three hours before we set foot in the consultation room. I usually hate waiting but not today. Chatting with my parents and ducking work emails and Slack messages guiltlessly on a Thursday was something I would not miss for the world.
There is a looming crisp cut at the end of this third wheel narrative that will play every time there is a doctor's appointment. I am losing my Dad. But not today, not any time soon. Not unless he lets it.