Turns out, mulligans are available in Hong Kong. At the beginning of May, we made the trip as a follow up to last year’s, um, situation in Shenyang. T wanted to have the metal rod and screws taken out of his leg, and HK was a much better option. Once again, he had gone to see Dr. Brockwell at SOS Beijing to get the process started. In the end, it was Dr. Kong at Matilda who performed the extraction. All went as expected and he was back to work a few days later.
From the moment the taxi pulled into the driveway, we couldn’t help but make comparisons to last year’s hospital stay. This was … different. Allow for the side by side comparison in photos. In case it is difficult to tell, the HK version is on the left.
To begin, just a quick look at the exteriors of Matilda International Hospital in Hong Kong, and Shengjing Hospital (#2) in Shenyang. Oh, and the view from the respective rooms. Yeah.
Granted, the surgeries were very different. Last year, Tim broke his leg on a Saturday morning and the surgery was finally scheduled for Thursday. He got to wear his own clothes. Well, that’s because no one told him any differently. They took them off in the operating room. A nurse and someone from Michelin (aka translator) went down with him. This year, it could all be scheduled in advance, so he just showed up that morning, showered and scrubbed his leg with antibacterial soap, put on his embroidered robe and head gear, and smiled his way into the day. While he was in surgery, I waited in two rather remarkable waiting areas. It was so nice that I didn’t have to smell urine or cigarettes at Matilda, nor did I have to see anyone’s tumor or the poking of said tumor.
Post surgery was difficult last March. He’d had an epidural so he had to lie flat for hours afterwards. And, as it turns out, the pain medication in China is equivalent to about 500mg of ibuprofen. As the epidural wore off, things got tough. There was some self medication, and my repeated requests to the nurse finally got him a shot of some sort. You can see he was a little more cheerful the second time around, maybe because he got the rod and screws as a souvenir.
The bandages were dismal the first time around. How many times did I have to ask for the bloody one to be changed not 1 hour after surgery? They never did change the blanket. At Matilda, a slightly different version.
Oh my goodness, I absolutely must show you the bathrooms! A picture is worth a thousand disinfected words.
When the nurse came with a wheelchair to take him down to xray, I was speechless. What? Our driver and I don’t have to push him and his hospital bed through the cabbages and the parking garage and the throngs of people?? No, just a leisurely stroll to the elevator, a lovely hallway with the hand prints of children on the wall. And outside the xray room, a hundred people staring, photographing and saying “hello”?? Ah, no, not so much.
After the 1st surgery, the doctor barely spoke to us despite his ability in English. I’m sure our driver and any number of strangers in the hallway got a full explanation though. You can guess what I’m going to say next… Matilda was a different story. The nurses gave me updates on the surgery and when he had been moved to recovery. Dr. Kong came to let me know that everything had gone as expected, that if there were any problems to inform the nurse, and that he’d come in the next day to change the bandages himself. Peace of mind.
Take note of the full supply cart that came with Dr. Kong and the nurse when they came to change the bandages at Matilda. The Shengjing equivalent was the small wrapped pouch set on the bed.
The faint of heart should not look at the next slide. We didn’t expect the Frankenstein stitches after the 1st surgery, but we were told it was normal. Dr. Kong’s were smaller and more delicate.
When it came time to go, T couldn’t wait to get the hell out of Shengjing. If we knew then what we know now… Leaving Matilda was like leaving a nice hotel at the end of a short trip.
There were many things that were different, and we’ll chalk it all up to the “experience”. Most of all, we’re just glad it is behind us, and we know better now.