Lack of Grace and Elegance in China – “Quad Style”


I’m sitting here with my sister this morning with a few hours to spare before I have to head back to the hospital. We are just pondering how to write this post because it could be a comic relief novel with what has happened to us over the last 24 hours.

After my antibiotic IV drip yesterday, my sister, my dad and I were waiting in the hospital to speak with Dr. Zhu Hui and Dr Liu Yansheng, my neurosurgeon, to discuss pre-surgery preparations. The doctors had scheduled several pre-surgery tests for me in order to check my bone density and to see if I have any blood clots in my legs.

A quick side note: I am sitting here trying to dictate my blog with my sister, and I have my two Chinese caregivers hovering around me trying to tell me that their noodles are inedible because there are too many sand particles inside the noodles themselves! For everything else there’s MasterCard.

So it’s about 3 p.m.  yesterday and I headed down with a team of people to the first floor of the hospital to check for blood clots. I had an entire audience of Chinese people watching me try to transfer onto this hard surface with my sister trying to take my pants off and roll me from side to side.  I put on quite a show and there were not quite enough lights to see correctly. You may think this is odd, but every other light in the hospital was turned off in order to save electricity.  Yes, in the hospital!  I sure hope they don’t practice energy-saving tips in the operating room when they open up my spinal cord.

The following test involved transferring me on to a very high table in order to take different x-rays of my bones, and let me tell you it was a very narrow surface. It took about an hour because we had to take eight or nine different x-rays … Why, you might ask?  Well, this is a little embarrassing, but I’m going to tell you anyway. Apparently I am too fat for Chinese x-ray machines, and the x-ray machine could not span across my entire hip area, so they had to perform three x-rays just for my hips.  I’m really trying to keep a sense a humor about this one.

As you can imagine, my neuropathic pain was quite intense by this point after getting tossed and turned so many times.

As I headed back up to my hospital room ready to leave for home, Dr. Zhu informed me around 4:30 p.m. that we were invited to a formal Chinese dinner in our honor to be hosted by the head of the Kunming Tongren Hospital.  Honestly, attending a Chinese banquet was the last thing I probably wanted to do that night.  Nonetheless, we all put on smiling faces and said “of course we would love to go.”

The only problem was that my handicap-accessible “London Taxi” has not yet arrived in Kunming, so my sister had to transfer me into the back seat of an ordinary car.  We have never attempted this before.  I must say it was probably one of the worst experiences I have ever had, so bad it was just comical.

We had no idea what technique to use, so my sister first put my feet in the car and then tried to pick me up, but my head hit the top of the car, I fell backwards, and then my sister and I both fell on top of each other sideways into the car together. It was just plain “ugly” as my prostrate body was hanging half-way out of the car, the Chinese were staring at us, and we just burst out laughing. There was nothing else to do, truly!

En route to the restaurant, we devised a better way to try to transfer me out of the car this time. Yes, it did work a little bit better. Then, I had to be pulled up stairs in my manual chair, and I have to say Tiffany did most of the lifting as the locals just looked at this diminuitive foreign girl like she was crazy.

The Chinese dinner itself was an elaborate and very traditional affair.  As is customary for the Chinese, dozens of courses were served on a revolving “Lazy Susan” atop a large circular table.  We were joined by executives and physicains from the hospital, by a lovely foreign family thaqt currently lives here and participates in the Kunming Walking Programme and a few other guests .

The dinner lasted the usual few hours with way too many dishes.  But I’m actually surprised how easy it is to be a vegan here in Kunming, where the farm-fresh produce is the most varied I’ve seen anywhere in the world.  There are alone more mushroom types on offer here in Yunnan Province than there are vegetables of all types on offer  in Miami.

We finally arrived home around 8:30 last night and I just crashed right away. I appreciate this post may be a little long, but my sister and I decided to have a little fun this morning with it.

I’m headed to the hospital shortly to discuss pre-surgery preparations as it is likely that I will have my surgery early next week.

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IV drip for bladder infection


Working through blood pressure issues


Classic Chinese toast

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Dr Liu… Chinese neurosurgeon, my surgeon!

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Chinese dinner party Spread

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Quad Sticks

2013-03-18 17.37.10

34 responses »

  1. LOL, this post is great, Ali. Especially the x-ray part. There is nothing like a trip to China to make you feel really fat! A 110 lb girl wears an x-large in China, so don’t take it personally, lol 🙂

  2. Good Lord. Well, it’s a good thing that you are the first and only North American to go for treatment in Kunming, because I think for a whole lotta folks, they would have to buy 45 Xray tables and put them together. Did you tell them that at home you are considered TINY?! The dinner party looks great! My husband was the High Commissioner (Ambassador) for Canada in the UK and we hosted dinners that looked pretty much just like that. Lovely. Other thoughts: The surgeon looks nice. And smart. The taxi – well, been there, done that – and the stairs too. My son Nick is 6′ now and about 160. I lifted him without a hoyer till he was 18 and when we had almost daily collapses together, I broke down and got a lift. No Master Card for situations like the taxi – priceless!

  3. Good luck cousin!
    (I’m a friend and neighbor of Ian and Diane’s and a distant Ingersoll cousin)
    Hope it goes well!

  4. I am laughing so hard. Omg, Girl! Where was everyone else when Tiff was trying to transfer you into the car?! Unreal. The dinner looks amazing. Does this count as Murphy Strike 3, or are you afraid to say this is his last strike? 🙂 XOXO

  5. Can’t imagine reading something funnier than your post this morning ! And I agree that the only thing to do in that “position” was to laugh ! Keep looking on the bright side of life no matter what, you two are wonderful and your courage is immense. I love you both xoxo Sassa

  6. ciao Ali!!!!
    miss you very much 🙂
    you should have taped the all being transfered into a car mission…sounds it would have make it on the top ten video watched…(along with mine walking into a streetlight pole 😉
    …by the way, now I’m a serious and quiet professional….NOPE…I wasn’t brainwashed….but i got my license!!!!!
    I will keep you in my thoughts …
    ciao bella

    hugs to everyone

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