Hospital Life in China. Part 6.

Wednesday came and I was anxious to have the operation to fix my broken ankle. The doctor did not tell me what time the operation would begin, so I got myself cleaned up and ready for the nurses to get me at any time. The nurses came, but only to hook me up to an IV. Later they came again, but not to take me to the operating room. They gave me another IV along with a few pills. The day ended with no operation and no message from the doctor about why.

A couple of days later a female doctor stopped. I had not seen her before. She glanced at my cast and without any more than that cursory examination, she said the operation would take place Tuesday. Tuesday came and went with the same results as the previous Wednesday. I tried to ask around to see if this was standard operating procedure for Chinese surgeons, but no one seemed to know anything.

In the mean time, they had stopped giving me pain medication at night. I laid awake suffering with the pain from my ankle combined with the increasing pain from the disease in my legs. I asked a nurse if I could have something to ease the pain so I could sleep. She said they only gave heavy medication for a limited time because if they gave unlimited narcotics, addicts would do things like break their own ankles to have access to it.

So far as I was concerned, if a person was desperate enough to break his own bones, he deserved some state administered narcotics. At least he wouldn’t be breaking the bones of innocent citizens while robbing them to get money for drugs.

A few days later the original ankle doctor came by and told me he’d operate on my the following Wednesday. Before he could run off to the next patient, I asked him what time? He said he was unsure. The operating room was not that closely scheduled. Then I reminded him he and the female doctor had missed the previous two appointments. And while I didn’t have much better to do than lay in bed and wait for him, I thought it was both unprofessional and rude to blow me off without a word of explanation.

I don’t know if it was my complaining or happenstance, but Wednesday morning they came and got me and took me to the operating room. I don’t remember very much about the room or the procedures. They put me to sleep and I woke up some time later in my own bed. My ankle was bandaged. I was in considerable pain with little if any medication.

After three or four days they removed the bandages from my ankle. There are three incisions, one on the inside of the ankle, one on the outside and one in front. Each incision had about 10 stitches. The one on the inside of my ankle had metal staples, the other two were sewn with thread of some kind. The doctor said to leave the bandage off because exposure to the air would promote healing.

About ten days later the doctor removed the staples and the stitches and sent me to have the ankle x-rayed. After a quick examination, the doctor handed me the x-rays and I put them in my back pack. I assume he was satisfied with his work, though he said nothing. Months later I noticed my right leg, the one with the broken ankle, was about an inch longer than my left leg.


About Charles Kirtley

Have been living in SE Asia and China since 2007. I have an opinion on most every subject, and don't mind sharing them. Lover and collector of worthless facts.
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