Saturday, 10 November 2012
Chad's Inguinal Injustice
I’d like to thank my husband’s inguinal hernia for returning me to this blog and for recently bringing us inadvertently to Singapore where we were able to do most of our Christmas shopping (Singapore is the land of the mall) and connect with old friends from Cairo, Egypt. Back to the inguinal hernia I’d like to thank. It happened last Friday during our October break. We were carrying (let me rephrase that…) Chad was carting our heavy luggage across the white sand beaches of Gili Trawangan in order to mob up in the blazing sun with the other boat-ticket holders to load the luggage on the boat and retrace our journey across the Darwin-Wallace line back to Padangbai, Bali. Grandma Beth had the carry-on bags. I had the children. Chad’s efforts with the luggage opened up a weakness in his abdominal cavity (one that he had conceivably already opened a while ago, since he’d been complaining of pain in his right hip for over a year.) The next morning he awoke with a large bulge above his bulge and he knew immediately what it was. When asked by a friend how he knew he replied, “Well, tumors don’t grow overnight.” When he lay down the bulge went away. The intestines slipped back into place. Yuck. When he stood up the bulge grew. Over time it drooped and sagged. It began to hurt and trouble him. Being an amateur athlete, he wanted it repaired immediately so he could get back in the saddle. So we made a few phone calls, sent a few e-mails and lined up a surgeon in nearby Singapore to do the dirty deed. Sure enough, Chad ended up having bilateral hernia surgery 6 days later on a humid Friday evening in Singapore. Since I’m going ahead and unselfishly thanking my husband’s inguinal hernia for my return to the blog, I’d like him to thank me for over-packing our luggage, which allowed him to get to the bottom line of his nagging hip pain after one year of concern. And perhaps after he thanks me for over-packing our luggage, I should thank him for taking a stance on needing a break from his job in Redmond, Oregon that had left him devoid of any energy that landed us in Bali, Indonesia as teachers at the well-marketed Green School on a two-year contract. Doesn’t chaos theory begin with the flap of a butterfly’s wings and radiate out from there? Do all amazing adventures start with something completely random like that to prod them into action? Checking into the Mt. Elizabeth Hospital for the surgery was a macabre affair. It was the uniform and leer of the hospital host that made me feel this way. A nice enough young man, he was unfortunately oversized and oddly shaped. To top off his monstrous “Hunchback of Notre Dame” look, he had placed an overstuffed wallet in the right rear pocket of his brown on brown concierge uniform. It bulged like a large stiff wart from the top of his massive pear-shaped buttocks and moved independently to the NE as his hips swayed and drooped toward the SW. The outfit, top to bottom, was an exact replica of the uniforms that the Disneyland crew working the Tower of Terror wear as they load you onto the ride. I kept waiting to hear the click of the ride’s cage snap into place. He wore a café au lait polyester jacket and pants with chocolate brown trim, Sergeant Pepper-style yellow cloth buttons, matching bellhop hat. He gave us not one but three over-the-shoulder ½ smiles with one slightly droopy eyelid to ensure we were following at the appropriate distance from the check-in desk to Chad’s shared hospital room on the 8th floor. The doctor was the antithesis of our hospital host. Sleek, clean shaven, revving with Asian efficiency and fatherly comfort. His waiting room wall was heavy with awards and certificates from trainings he had attended. Chad’s favorite was the certificate for “hands on colon and rectal surgery” training at a hospital in South Korea. He had satisfactorily completed a year of training at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Always reassuring for an American seeking overseas incisions. He was warm, hospitable, had the perfect length of personal bedside manner and then switched quickly into business mode with an examination and a fascinating lesson about the implicit weaknesses of the male abdominal cavity due to embryological development of testes, which have to pass through three walls of tissue to descend into the scrotum during fetal development. He pointed out the femoral artery and other tubes that pass through the abdominal cavity in order to do their job, leaving behind areas of weakness that can easily rupture with the slightest of effort. All of this explanation was offered with a visual aid – a model of a cross-section of the male anatomy and lower abdomen. The doctor turned the model towards us each time he made the point by grabbing onto the largest external feature of the model and using it as a handle. I mentally visualized it into a coffee cup because he kept grasping the penis handle and tipping the lower abdomen toward his mouth as he made his point. Chad had obviously opened up his right side along one of these fault lines and, after a thorough ultrasound, the doctor determined that he also had a small tear along another fault line on the opposite side. Bilateral surgery was scheduled for 4:30pm on Friday and we were sent out to enjoy the mall culture of downtown Singapore for a few hours before the procedure began. Medical tourism at its best. Fast, efficient, comforting. Meanwhile, we have reached the apex of our Renaissance in Bali. We think. We are happy, balanced, settled, comfortable, energized. The kids are naked, free, swimming every day, bouncing on the trampoline and running wild from house to house in our 7-family 7-home villa compound on the outskirts of Ubud. Pirates come blazing through our living/dining area, costumes askew, blades up and ready for the imaginary battle that is going to take place in the labyrinth-style garden between the swimming pool and the trampoline. Packs of older girls come by to see if Zoe wants to come over and play at their house. They squat down to her level for the invite, arms folded onto knees, heads jutted forward with expectation. When she answers with the affirmative, they scoop her up in their arms and carry her off or offer more of a big-sister hand and away they go, down the flowery pebbly path that connects one house to the other. It is pretty blissful here most of the time. Returning overseas after summer break feels like clockwork comparing to arriving for the first time. While we had an amazing summer in the USA there were things we were looking forward to completing here and we had to get here to get back into gear. Bali’s magic continues to surprise us with ceremonies around every corner, gentle loving people who are very tuned into our kids and newly discovered wild places we are able to explore by bicycle. We are hopeful for more of that soon, once this hernia patches itself up. Between now and the hoped-for increased island bike exploration we are staring down the barrel of a busy semester at school and a three week holiday in New Zealand with Chad’s brother’s family and my parents coming over to join us as well. As much as we are missing family and community, we are thankful for our grandparent visits (Grandma Beth rocked October break!) and enjoying the nutty little community we have managed to temporarily join here in Bali.