Chapter 41

Liang Yanyan could understand the whole surgical process, which had Ah Tou finally starting to believe that the other woman was truly a doctor. So, her side job is catching ghosts? Ah Tou felt that this woman was fucking awesome. The video quality wasn’t all that good, and this hotel still used CRT TV sets so there were a lot of interruptions in the tape and the video often got stuck or had white noise.

The tapes essentially recorded the whole process of Long Immortal’s surgery, but Pan Boda’s conversation with his assistants gave them limited information. Other than simple surgical instructions, the only information available was that Long Immortal’s skull was thinner than that of an average human’s.

Long Immortal stayed awake during the whole surgery. He didn’t speak but simply looked at the screen next to him. Ah Tou didn’t know how it would feel for someone to watch others open their own skull, but this kind of person obviously required a strong mind. 

Long Immortal’s blood pressure remained very stable throughout the whole procedure as his brain was cut open layer by layer. Pan Boda’s first goal was to remove one of the smaller tumors since he couldn’t reach the largest one using the current incision. He could only locate the closest one, which also turned out to be the only one he could remove. An endoscopy was required to examine the rest of the tumors. 

After about an hour, they located the tumor of interest and began detaching the blood vessels around it. But after inspecting the tumor carefully, Pan Boda stopped.

“What’s wrong?” Long Immortal asked him.

“It’s not tumor tissue. I saw something else.” Pan Boda’s face was pale. 

“What is it?”

“I don’t know. It’s smooth like ice and also transparent.”

“Let me see it.”

Pan Boda moved the camera closer and adjusted the focus. Both Liang Yanyan and Ah Tou leaned in to see what it was. 

It was an ice-like stone that had grown inside Long Immortal’s brain. “Take it out,” Long Immortal said after looking at it.

“It’s not a good angle.”

“Dr. Pan, I’ve read countless books. Although I have never left this village, I know many things. What you’re facing right now may be even more miraculous than you think.”

“Taking it out might put pressure on a lot of blood vessels. If any one of them ruptures, your brain will immediately be damaged. We agreed earlier that we’ll stop if the risk goes above ninety percent.”

“We didn’t see this ice-like stone in the X-rays we took of my brain. We only saw the tissue that’s wrapped around it. Do you know what kind of stone has a crystalline appearance that can’t show up on X-rays?”

Pan Boda shook his head. “Diamonds,” Long Immortal said. “I think… this is a diamond.”

A diamond wasn’t essentially a stone but a piece of solid carbon, so it could hardly show up on X-rays.

“How can there be a diamond in your head?”

Long Immortal laughed, “I want to know, too. Please help me take it out.”

Pan Boda looked at each of his assistants and hesitated for a while before continuing the operation. During the process of taking the stone out, Long Immortals’ blood pressure rapidly dropped twice. During one of those times, Long Immortal completely lost consciousness and had to be resuscitated, but the stone was eventually taken out.

The stone was about the size of two finger joints, but it was wrapped in the largest of the small tumor tissues. The rest of the stones were deep in the brain and were difficult to remove with traditional surgery.

The camera was focused on the stone, and Ah Tou and Liang Yanyan practically had their faces pressed up to the TV to see it. To Ah Tou, this stone was probably the most mysterious thing she had ever seen in this world. The light that was reflected off of it was biological—sort of like a pearl in a seashell—but it was also transparent and there were a lot smaller light sources reflected inside of it. 

But this was all they could see.

“Next, we’ll try to remove the side of your brain that the tumor is pressing on. According to the X-rays, your brain on that side is already calcified and there’s a lot of fluid obstruction. I don’t know how you’ve survived.”

“We’re going to remove half of your brain along with this stone. You told us before that this isn’t a lesion,” he continued.

“Right, I just wanted to look at it. You don’t have to take it out. I know you can’t get it out anyway if it’s wrapped up in brain tissue.”

“But I need to take out all the smaller ones because you’ll only have half of your brain left. If the smaller ones grow again but the large one remains there, the brain will continue to be compressed. I need to remind you again of this risk.”

“I know that removing half of the brain can cause paralysis, death, memory loss, and many other common brain disorder symptoms,” Long Immortal said. “But what’s the difference between that and my current condition?”

Pan Boda remained silent for a moment and then continued the operation.

The following procedure lasted two tapes. While changing the tapes, Liang Yanyan explained the basic logic of hemicraniectomy to Ah Tou, but it was so hard for Ah Tou to understand that she got a headache. She was just amazed to hear that people with only half of their brains could live without any difficulties at all.

The operation was very boring and there was almost no dialogue but Ah Tou still carefully watched the two videotapes to the end. Even when they were at the last ten minutes of the second tape, Ah Tou still held back from pressing the fast-forward button.

But around that time, there was finally a substantial change. A nurse behind the camera suddenly cried out in alarm and some of the doctors immediately went over to see what was going on. Then, they heard Pan Boda’s voice ask, “What happened?”

“He’s shrinking.”

“What’s shrinking?

“His muscles. All of his organs are starting to fail.” The camera was pushed over, and Long Immortal’s whole body seemed to melt away as if it were rapidly aging. A nurse tried to put the stone back into his brain, but Pan Boda stopped her.

“Is he conscious?”

“It’s intermittent.”

“Prepare an endoscope. We’ll try to take more stones out before he completely collapses.”

“But…don’t you think he’s rapidly debilitating because we took out the stone?”

“Even if we put the stone back in, he can’t survive it. The aging might stop before we lose him. We can only act according to medicine, not metaphysics.”

Ah Tou’s palms began to sweat. Although she knew this was something that had happened a long time ago, she felt as nervous as if she were at the scene herself.

Pan Boda was extremely focused while removing all the small stones and dead brain tissue, but he only looked at the biggest stone with the endoscope. 

The biggest stone was transparent and extremely huge, but unlike the small stones, there was something inside of this one. 

The shadow was dark, but they couldn’t tell what it was with the endoscope.

The surgery was suspended. Long Immortal’s reaction time was extremely slow, and although he had trouble breathing, he refused to put on a respirator. Pan Boda knew he couldn’t save Long Immortal anymore, so he pushed the screen closer so that Long Immortal could see the large stone tumor more clearly.

“It’s talking to me,” Long Immortal said. “It’s telling me that I’m dying.”

Then, he began talking to himself, “What are you? Why are you in my brain?”

These were the last words they could hear. After that, his mouth kept moving, but the sound was no longer audible. But his expression gradually relaxed, as if he got the answer he was looking for.

Ah Tou watched Long Immortal rapidly age and become weak. It was almost like seeing life passing by with the naked eye. She subconsciously squeezed Liang Yanyan’s hand, and the other woman squeezed back while lighting a cigarette. Liang Yanyan took a puff and then handed it to Ah Tou.

But at this time, Long Immortal said his last words. He opened his eyes, looked away from the screen, and glanced up at the ceiling, “I want to feel the sea breeze.”

The heart monitor drew a straight line and everyone stopped moving.

Ah Tou and Liang Yanyan looked at the frozen scene, unable to react for a very long time.

<Chapter 40><Table of Contents><Chapter 42>



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