Kay is so gross. Yesterday, after being wheeled into the operating theatre, he handed the surgical crew his camera and requested for them to help him take photos of his surgery.
After the surgery, when he awoke from general anesthesia and was transported back to his own bed, the first thing he asked for was to look at the photos.
But he was disappointed (although I was relieved) that they only took three photos, two before the surgery and one during. It wasn’t a close-up. He had wanted a close-up of the gory stuff being done inside his open arm.
This, I think, is detail enough for me. Any slightest bit more and I won’t be posting the photo up at all.
This is a picture of Kay undergoing a dome osteotomy, a surgical procedure to correct the carrying angle of his left elbow which, before surgery, was turned outwards about 10 degrees too much.
You can see his arm being operated on. They have to cut through the humerus (upper arm bone), turn it the right way, fix the two separated pieces back with screws and plates, then wait for the bone to heal.
That’s why I’m relieved they didn’t take more detailed photos. I don’t have the stomach to see such stuff!
There’s something about the culture in South Korean hospitals that puzzles us a bit. Of course, I don’t know that all South Korean hospitals are like that; I’m just assuming that Severance Hospital is a good representation.
When Kay was first admitted, we were shown around the ward.
“This is where you deposit your food tray after your meals.”
Patients are expected, after each meal, to walk out their rooms to the tray station to deposit their trays and empty plates.
“This is the water dispenser.”
Patients are not provided water in the room. They have to walk to the water station and drink off flat paper cups that look more like tiny envelopes which hold only about one mouthful of water.
There’s generally a huge culture of independence and civic-mindedness in Seoul. In every food court or fast food type eating place, patrons clear their own dishes and trays and separate their trash into recycling bins.
But here we are at a hospital, where many patients would be incapacitated, so I’m surprised that the independent culture extends to here.
Yesterday, after Kay was pushed back to his room after his surgery, groggy and in pain, one of the nurses gave him a sling and said something to the effect of, “Use this when you want to walk around or sit up.”
She didn’t teach him how to use it. I think she kinda expected him to know and expected him to be able to sling it on himself.
When he asked her, “Can I drink water now?” she said “yes” but didn’t look like she was going to bring him any.
Not that I’m saying Korean nurses are unkind. On the contrary, they’re very sweet and patient. I guess we were just a little surprised because both of us have been hospitalised in Singapore before and weren’t expected to be that independent, especially fresh out of surgery.
Or maybe she thought my presence meant that I would be helping Kay with all the basic stuff. That could be it. Which is, then, fine. I don’t mind fetching him water and clearing his food trays for him. But I did feel a bit helpless when he needed to go to the bathroom and I didn’t know how to help him out of bed or put his sling on.
He has this blood bag attached to his wounded arm, supposedly to drain off excess blood that’s coming off the surgical site. (The doctor calls it haematoma.) Below the blood bag is a hot water bottle, except this one is filled with ice cubes and ice water. It’s to numb his pain because he refuses to take strong painkillers.
When the nurse had asked him to rate his pain on a scale of 1 to 10, he had said 7, then declined her offer of stronger painkillers.
He said to me, “Think about soldiers who are shot during war and have no access to anesthesia or painkillers. That must be unbearably painful. This is probably nothing compared to their pain.”
Told you he’s a crazy war nut.
I don’t think I share his level of pain tolerance.
I was yelling in pain yesterday wearing the hospital slippers. They’re one of those massage slippers but worse than any I’ve tried before. The massage nodes are tiny and hard!
Anyway, the funny thing is that they don’t hurt so much in the evening and night and I can walk around in them happily, only feeling mildly pained, perhaps akin to someone lightly whacking me all over with a baseball bat.
But in the morning and early afternoon, I find them unbearable to walk in, even with socks. The pain is then more akin to someone setting the baseball bat on fire and then whacking my most tender spots with it.
This was my lunch yesterday.
It’s a pre-packed meal from the hospital food court. I don’t know why but pre-packed meals and fast food always appeal to me more than “proper” food.
Anyway, it was so delicious I finished every last bit of it even though the meal portion was a bit too big for me.
It’s quite cool staying in the hospital ward, even if I don’t have a proper bed. I have a huge fridge in which to stock all my groceries. That’s the most important!
I bought so many fruits Kay thought I was nuts. Currently, I have bananas, grapes, strawberries, apples and persimmons. I wanted to buy oranges too but couldn’t find the Sunkist type. All they have now seem to be mini Mandarin oranges.
I even bought a knife to cut the fruits with. The hospital supermarket is amazing. It has everything.
Well, except flowers. I wanted to buy some flowers but there’s no florist in the entire hospital.
So I googled, “Why are there no florists in Korean hospitals?”
I didn’t get a direct answer, but I learnt that in the UK, at least, flowers have been banned from hospitals since 2003 for various reasons (bacteria breeding, allergies, etc).
Dunno if that’s why I can’t find a florist here. All hospitals usually have florists, don’t they? Here, I can only find fruit baskets and food hampers.
The resident doctor came in early this morning to redress Kay’s wound. I took a photo of the stitch, which looks quite painful. Reminds me of Frankenstein’s monster cos it’s a huge stitch and he’s got two tubes sticking out his arm feeding the haematoma bag.
If you’re not squeamish, you can click here to see the photo. It’s quite disgusting, so be warned!
The hospital breakfast this morning included bacon. So weird when hospitals serve unhealthy food. I’ve seen this happen in Singapore hospitals, too.
Okay, I’m going back to bed. It’s kinda hard to sleep in the hospital because you keep getting disturbed by one thing or another: Nurses and doctors coming in any time to do this or that, the cleaner coming in three times a day to clear the bins and clean the floor, the P.A. system sounding off occasionally, even in the middle of the night.
But it’s still an interesting experience, staying in the hospital and not being a patient.
Tonight will be the last night, I think. Discharging tomorrow!