Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Hospital

So I went in for a procedure, which I will not detail here, but I did want to blog about my experience at the Hong Kong Sanatorium. The procedure was pretty minor, in the grand scheme of things, but it is something that requires a skilled surgeon who actually KNOWS about it, which was much harder to find then I originally thought. After talking to five doctors, I made my choice. Luckily, he worked out of the Sanatorium, which is known in Hong Kong as one of the best choices for "ladies issues."

First I was given a choice as to if I wanted to stay in a single room (1st class), a room with a shared toilet (2nd class) or a room where I shared it with 5 other people. At first I signed-up for the single room, because I thought it was like America, but then I found out that ALL EXPENSES (yes, that's right, it even includes the cost of the surgeon's time and doctor follow-up visits) are linked directly to which room you choose. So does this mean the surgeon does a better job for a 1st class patient then a 2nd class patient? Hmmm, I hope not. I was lucky enough (I think?) to secure a single room with a shared-toilet.

I arrived early, handed over my referral letter and was given my room number. A very dear friend (also a nurse) came with me. I went into the room, which was lovely and absolutely SPARKLING clean. I was given a "Welcome" bag, that had toiletries. Also a robe, slippers, soft pants and a soft shirt - nothing like those crisp, light-blue gowns we get in America. This one was made of heavy cotton; the weight was somehow reassuring.

Then a nurse came in - and this was the only part I didn't like - she was absolutely clueless why I was there. I even had to SPELL the condition out to her and explain it to her like she was 4-years-old (good thing I've had so much practice at explaining things to 4-year-olds). I said, "didn't the doctor send something? Didn't you know I was coming?" Poor thing. At which point my friend told me they just send the interns to check people in. Didn't make me feel too confident.

From there it got better again. They offered me warm blankets when they brought the wheelchair, and I found myself absolutely warm and cuddled up as I was rolled through the hospital. I was then transferred to a bed, with a very warm comforter. They then put two more hot blankets under and the chill was gone. I was then rolled into the operating room. Everyone was speaking in Chinese this entire time, which I found somehow reassuring because I actually didn't want to know what was going on around me.

And then the anesthesiologist arrived. I was totally tucked under the blankets, with a strap over the top of everything. Clothes still on. And I was thinking, at some point they'll ask me to take off the blanket, right? But they didn't. He asked me for my hand and that's all he needed. Before I slid off to sleep town, I remember thinking, this anesthesiologist is the happiest man I've ever met. I'll take some of what he's got... and then I was awake. And it was over. And I spent the next 20 hours in my room. And it was so quiet. So very quiet.

I had all these plans for making plans and getting things sorted while I was there, but I found having no distractions so distracting. I didn't watch tv. I just read a book and enjoyed the silence. By the end of the day I felt like I had slept a thousand years, maybe because I didn't have to "do" anything, or maybe because a surgery I had been dreading was over, or maybe because I was just relieved to get on with my life.

I made a little vow to myself to make every effort to protect the stillness and quietness inside. To stay calm and stop worrying so much. Easier said then done, especially for me, but even now I can still feel it. It's solid and strong and I feel as though I've been out of touch with it for so long. Welcome back.

Here is the "lobby" of the hospital...

The view from my hospital room...