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Did You See That?

My name is Santoecha Rangai and when I was 26 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. At that time, I had just moved to Belgium a year ago to complete my second bachelor's degree. Those were tough times, but I now look back on them with a smile. I have been cancer free for seven years now and I am doing well.

After my 12-hour DIEP flap operation, I was awakened by two nurses who had hooked me up to a morphine pump. It was my first time on a morphine pump and I always react quite strongly to morphine and other strong painkillers.

I opened my eyes, looked past the sisters, and began to wave wildly. The sisters asked me who I was waving to, as there was no one else in the room besides them. I looked at them in astonishment and said,"Mr. Shark of course!"

The nurses suggested that I could have bad dreams from the morphine and wanted to disconnect me from the pump. I didn't agree, because Mr. Shark was actually very friendly: at least he smiled kindly. He wasn't like the brightly-colored elephants that walked arrogantly through my room. You can guess that when I said that, the morphine pump went off right away.

A few years later I experienced something somewhat similar again. I ended up in the emergency room because of severe abdominal pain. The pain was so severe that sometimes my eyes rolled away. The hospital staff saw this and asked me to rate my pain on a scale of 1 to 10. I said 8 and I had to put my tongue up, and the nurse emptied a bag of pink powder under my tongue. I thought the stuff just tasted like candy and didn't think it would have that much of an effect.

Until another nurse came in to take some blood from me. I told her she was my new best friend and asked her for her work schedule. That way we could have lunch together when I came to visit her. Belgians are quite closed off and don't often talk about emotions. Her cheeks flushed and she knew just where to look as I chatted happily. I don't know what else I've said to her for kindness, but I left the hospital with a two-month disability form.

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