This afternoon we will be released from the hospital to go home. We just took our Covid tests for clearance. We’ll be changing the confines of a hospital for the confines of our community as the Shanghai lockdown continues, but it will be nice to have a bed again. More importantly, it means that my wife is making progress and that’s why they are comfortable to send us home.
This has been quite an ordeal and I sincerely hope that it’s a once in a lifetime experience, but it’s also come with its own gifts. This will be my focus today.
Eleven Things I’ve Learned
I can be calm under pressure. This was by far the most intense “emergency” situation that I’ve been in and I did pretty alright.
A well-placed bedpan is a lifesaver. I’ve come to appreciate the utilitarian beauty of this simple invention.
My wife is a warrior. Ok, I knew this already, but she upped her rank this time.
A reasonably good layered look can be achieved by pulling a pony tail over the head (toward the face) and then cutting straight.
Caregivers are heroes. From the doctors and nurses to the food servers and ayi’s they do their work in the service of others. They are not perfect (just like the rest of us) but they are full of good intentions.
A terribly broken leg would be a good model for a wonderfully nasty Halloween piñata. This is a million dollar idea, but I don’t have the entrepreneurial sprit to capitalize it myself so feel free to steal it.
Covid started off as a human tragedy in its own right, but the way governments have responded around the world have compounded the casualties. The west’s loose approach accelerated deaths early in their countries. China’s rigid zero-tolerance policy is accelerating casualties of all kinds now. I can only hope that governments around the world reflect on this experience and learn something for next time.
An injection in the belly (of anti-clotting medication) should be located approximately three to four finger widths away from the belly button and jabbed quickly at ninety degrees from the skin surface. It is scary but it is doable.
Meaningfully reflecting on the gifts we receive each day is a powerful anti-depressant.
Absence can make some of life’s simplest things the greatest pleasures, especially true for bowel movements.
A good life-partner is a blessing to never be squandered. Enjoy the time you have together, even if its sharing a hospital room. We can’t control the future but we can certainly choose to appreciate the present.
Eleven days ago I was asleep in bed. It was early, but I’d had a headache and decided to retire early. I was deeply asleep and it took a number of rings for the phone to break through to my awareness. I finally picked up to hear my wife saying “I fell”. I asked where she was and she said she was just past the bridge in our community. She’d been on a “pick-up run” to get some food that had been delivered to the gate. One of many such runs lately as we’ve been under a lock-down due to Covid and the main source of food is through bulk buys with the community and deliveries will come anytime of day and night. Normally I would have been driving her on our scooter, but she didn’t want to wake me so she went herself.
I dressed quickly. Just a pair of shorts and t-shirt and ran downstairs, grabbed a mask and took off as fast as I could. I wasn’t very fast. I thought what a bad husband I am to be in such bad shape that I can barely run during an emergency. But I didn’t stop. I pushed through till I arrived at the bridge, climbed the steps, crossed, and saw her on the ground at the bottom of the steps on the other side. Going down she told me that her leg was hurt and she couldn’t get up. A neighbor was there too so she wasn’t alone. So, I said to wait and I would go get the wheelchair that her mother usually used. I’d just put it away earlier that evening after we had all gone to the community center for our covid screening. I ran back home, again slow, but again not stopping. Breathing hard I wheeled the chair from home back to the far end of the bridge — taking the ramps instead of the steps. Later I would learn that my wife had missed the down ramp and drove the scooter directly off the concrete steps. Without a helmet. Her injuries would prove to be severe, but not as bad as they could have been. Thinking back, I’m grateful now. At the time, I wasn’t thinking much except one step at a time — and trying to catch my breath.
I lifted her into the wheelchair and wheeled her quickly but carefully to our home — still breathing way too hard. I told her to wait as I grabbed the car keys and my ID. She cried out in pain as I lifted her into the back seat. She whimpered the whole trip to the Emergency Room. At the gate of our community I tried to explain the situation to the guard in my broken Chinese — normally not so bad but the situation was not normal and I didn’t have the vocabulary. I needed a pass to get out because of the Covid lockdown. We figured each other out and the guard gave me a pass. That got us out of the community but wouldn’t get us out of the district. I had to go to the local police station to get another pass. It was just around the corner so it didn’t take too long. Thirty minutes later I was pulling into the ER.
I’m sharing these facts with little emotion. Not because I don’t have strong feelings about that night eleven days ago, but because I experienced it that way. I was operating on auto-pilot. I needed to get my wife the care she needed. I couldn’t help her with the pain as she cried in the back-seat. I could just drive as calmly and safely as I could to get her into professional hands. Now I look back in horror at what could have been. She ended up with a shattered ankle and a bruised and battered body, but she is alive with no critical head or back injuries. After launching off a bridge. With no helmet. Down concrete stairs. And crashing on a concrete pathway. The pain has been intense for her. She says much worse than giving birth. Not a little worse. Much worse. But all things considered she is blessed. We are blessed. She is alive. She is aware. She will be ok.
Her surgery will be tomorrow. We’ve been locked down in the hospital since the accident. She recovering slowly awaiting for the inflammation to go down enough to enable a safe and successful surgery. Me at her side. Unable to leave because of the Covid restrictions. Sleeping on a sofa. Washing my clothes in the sink. Learning how to care for my wife in ways that I’ve never had to before. And so grateful for the opportunity.
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