Green-blue Flannels and an unexpected stay in the hospital

While writing this post I was snuggling under a layer of three blue blankets surrounded by the beep-noise of monitors and ringing telephones paired with the sound of hurried pairs of white shoes on  peach-colored vinyl floor. To my left a very sweet old lady dressed in green and blue flannel pyjamas was snoring lightly and to my right another lady was attempting to sleep to the sound of the news in Cantonese. And sandwiched between them was me, also dressed in green and blue flannel PJs, contemplating how to write this blogpost without worrying anyone too much 😀 Well, well… on Monday I embarked on a 2 day hospital adventure after a referral by an Ear-Nose-Throat Specialist, who diagnosed me with suspected barotrauma on my head and a small perilymph fistula on my right ear. Frankly speaking, I have a pressure induced mild head trauma and a small rupture/deformation in my right inner ear membrane (also due to pressure) “Ayaahhh…” as we would say here in Hong Kong. What my mom had always been gloriously foreshadowing after each of my dives had finally happened. I spent the past two weeks in school wondering about my constant ear pain, diminished hearing and dizziness (the sensation of vertigo on dry land is quite intriguing) and if it wasn’t for Linda, my Coral Monitoring supervisor who sent me to the ENT specialist, I would have continued pushing these symptoms away as a slight cold and stress. Hence, I was a little crushed when I heard about the diagnosis and even more heartbroken when the first ENT doctor suggested “in-patient close monitoring” and bed-rest paired with conservative treatment, which is a combination of the previously mentioned with audiological tests (from Latin audīre, “to hear”; and from Greek -λογία, -logia) is a branch of science that studies hearing, balance, and related disorders).

The first day in hospital passed with a long waiting period in a patient-filled hall together with our school nurse Monica. At that point I was in belief that our hospital visit had the purpose of a second diagnosis and a check to see whether the waiting-list for patients is very long (in Hong Kong public hospitals these lists can be so long that it can take up to three months to receive a bed in a hospital, in which case I would have to go in as “private” to reduce the waiting time) When the nurse took me up to the fourth floor to show me “my bed”, right after a short conversation with the doctor, I was therefore utterly surprised, considering that I had nothing but my laptop, a pencil case my Kindle and my Hong Kong ID with me. My protests and requests to go back to school pick up a few clothes and books was ignored and the nurse handed me the already mentioned blue and green flannel PJs that are required to be worn  (for the purpose of patient identification) together with a patient “barcode” bracelet.

IMAG0836I was happy that at least I had my laptop with me until I found out that the hospital does not allow me to charge it (the plugs are for medical equipment use only) and also does not have WiFi access for patients. I was sharing my room with five other ladies – all of them very quiet, yet very kind (we all had yummy coconut cake together) – and of which one knew English and has been in the hospital for more than a month now due to an operation on her throat. Confined to my bed (as walking was not allowed for me) I started to make use of my freetime and boredom by grabbing my Kindle and reading books. I highly recommend “A Path Appears: Transforming Lives and Creating Opportunities” by Pulitzer Price winning journalist couple Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas Kristof, absolutely wonderful. Upon finishing this book, you are likely to experience an uneasy state of stimulation and find yourself willing to do something in the world, unconcerned by questions of scale, but instead, to simply become more engaged, and in that, a little bit more alive. So beware (it is one of th books that would fall in the category that we dubb as “very UWC” 😉

Later, after finishing a book on criminal psychology (sure one of the most intriguing reads of the day), I took a nap and just five minutes after waking up a big surprise was waiting for me:Jessica (Lebanon) and my roommate Ploy (Thailand) had come to visit. I was so happy that I almost bursted out in tears of joy.  They brought me snacks, clothes, more books and a bunch of other survival-essentials, which were all witness to the short yet absolutely lovely time spent together (visiting hours were restricted from 6 pm to 7.30 pm only)

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The next day I was toured around the hospital in a wheelchair and underwent a few more hearing and pressure tests. 7 hours later, two happy surprises awaited me, a few of my friens had come to visit me, just on time to heard the good news: the injury in my ear was small enough to heal on its own with adeqaute rest and did not require surgery, which meant that I was finally able to leave the hospital and return to LPC with the group of lovely people who came to visit me. The doctors told me that the healing process would require a few months and no physical exercise for 6 weeks and unfortunately no diving for 3 months (a fact that broke my heart deeply). How good it was to be back in school and sleep in my own bed. Upon my arrival in my room I found my table covered in sticky notes and “get-well-soon” messages. What an adventure that once more brought to light the beauty of this place: no matter how far or how long, you will always be surrunded by caring and loving individuals from all over the world.

IMAG0839I have been on bedrest and off school for the whole week and am incredibly happy to be able to walk properly again (the ear injury affected my ability to balance, hence making me walk as if I was drunk :D) with only a little bit of dizziness and pressure remaining in my ears, allowing me to participate in MESCA: The Middle East and South, Central Asian Cultural Evening.

Get ready for another blogpost on the unforgettable week that encompassed all sorts of cultural events related to MESCA!