Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Adventures in a Taiwanese Hospital


I wasn't planning on doing much blogging this weekend, because Floyd and I were going to take the high speed rail to Taipei and spend a couple of days there for our 5th anniversary (which was yesterday). We had hotel reservations and plans to visit museums, the zoo, and the tallest building in the world. But, it seems we weren't intended to do that this weekend.

It all started Wednesday morning, which began as a regular school day as far as I was concerned. Floyd was still asleep when I left for school (since he doesn't start work till a little later). I didn't know anything was going on until recess, when a friend of ours who's a nurse came and called me urgently from my classroom, explaining that they thought Floyd had appendicitis and were rushing him to the emergency room. He had called in with pain in his lower right abdominal area, and they thought he should get it checked out. The school secretary arranged for a sub for my class for the rest of the day, so I was able to come along when they took him to Cheng Ching Hospital.

I'll never forget that scary drive!  Floyd was in excruciating pain, and we all thought his appendix was about to burst at any second.  Our friend who was at the wheel drove like a maniac to try to get him there before it was too late, and we were praying hard and reciting psalms and holding our breath as she swerved through traffic and executed all sorts of probably illegal maneuvers.  (Her comment: "I've always wanted to drive like this, and now I have an excuse!")


Somehow we made it to the hospital (the tall bluish building in the picture) in one piece, and I'm guessing angels were involved in protecting us on the road!  Someone from the school had called ahead, and when we arrived there was an English-speaking doctor (the dad of one of our students) right there waiting for us.

After a brief examination and some questioning, and later some other tests, it was determined that the problem was not Floyd's appendix at all, but a large, impacted kidney stone. That was a relief to me, though no less painful to him.  Later that afternoon he went into surgery to have it removed.

The surgery, which they did orthoscopically (sp?) and under general anesthesia, took just under an hour and a half, and apparently went smoothly. He came out feeling pretty good, all things considered. Because they didn't actually have to make an incision, he ended up in relatively little pain afterwards. It was arranged that Floyd would stay the night for observation (since it was evening by then), and leave the next day. We got a private room on the eleventh floor, where we settled down for the rest of the evening.

While we were in the hospital, we were overwhelmed by the number of people who came by to help. Altogether, I counted twelve or thirteen different people who came by the hospital at different times to see if they could do anything for us. These included students, teachers, parents, and administrators from the school, as well as various other members of Taichung's English-speaking community, many of whom we barely knew, and a couple of whom we hadn't even met before. It was great because the whole time we were there, there was always at least one person who could translate for us. Most of the doctors spoke some English, but most of the nurses and other hospital personnel didn't, and I don't know how we would have managed without translators. One lady's husband had gone to medical school with several of the hospital staff, and so she was able to arrange for the hospital's PR representative to come and see to it that we got extra-good care. (That's how things work here: it's all about who you know.) Several people even brought us food that evening, which was nice since the hospital didn't provide any. (The way it usually works is that patients' family members bring them meals.) Luckily there was a little fridge in our room, and it was soon well stocked with Subway sandwiches, crackers, cookies, a banana, salad, garlic bread, juice, soda, seafood pasta, a breakfast bagel sandwich, soup, potato chips, cake, and rice porridge, which ended up being the only thing Floyd could actually eat that night after his surgery.

I had been planning on spending the night there with him, but by bedtime Floyd said he was feeling so much better that I might as well go home and get some sleep. Instead, one of the teachers from Morrison volunteered to stay over, so that he could help translate if anything came up. So I got a ride home with someone and came back first thing in the morning with a different friend.

Well, Floyd kept improving, and by early Thursday afternoon they let him check out. We took a taxi home and he's been resting in our apartment for the last couple of days. He's not quite back to full health yet, but he seems to feel better all the time, and is well enough to be bored with all the sitting around. I guess that's a good sign! We were even able to go out last night for our anniversary, to a little Japanese-style restaurant a few minutes' walk from our apartment (picture below).

Floyd is planning on going back to work on Monday, especially if he keeps improving at his current rate. In the meantime, we're thankful to God for working everything out so well.  Praise the Lord that there were so many people willing and available to help, from transportation to translation to bringing food to subbing for me at school to holding us both up in prayer. The hospital was very modern and well-equipped, the doctors were experts in their fields, Floyd said the operating room was sterile and everything an operating room should be, and the total bill came to a fraction of what it would have cost back in the States. We are very thankful that everything worked out as well as it did, and we are especially grateful for all the wonderful people who stepped up to help in so many ways.

Hopefully I'll be blogging again in a few weeks with the details of our postponed weekend in Taipei!

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