Saturday, January 18, 2014

Hong Kong - Big time Nostalgia

I am sitting on a floating pontoon right now, watching little kids sail in little Optimists. I can't believe I used to sail in those bathtubs. I am at a club where I used to sail and row, and I am not quite sure how I feel. I don't think I feel terribly sad; of course, rowing and sailing were never a big part of my identity, like climbing is. I think I just miss this setting more...the weather, the facilities...being able to sit outside by the sea without a thick down coat in the middle of January. Seeing the little kids learn how to sail makes me smile a little as does seeing the small boat house from which we would launch our crew boats.

Current view
View from Middle Island, Hong Kong

Middle Island, Hong Kong

I think I am feeling especially nostalgic on this visit because for a long time, I wasn't sure whether I would be mobile enough to return to Hong Kong and get around. One needs to take a very short boat ride from Hong Kong Island to Middle Island; it was a tad annoying having my Dad constantly warn me about steps, try to help me in/out of the boat and so forth. Of course, it is totally understandable so I let it slide and just refuse offers of help and do my own thing. But parents will be parents.

I just got my haircut by a hairdresser who cut my hair 25 years ago (!), when I was 7 years old so, contributing to a few somewhat traumatic years :) I have a habit of getting my hair cut in countries where I either speak the language poorly or not at all (e.g. Argentina, Myanmar, Poland...), and the results are usually telling. This time, my Cantonese seems to be good enough to get the haircut I wanted. I guess it was also nice to talk to someone who has no idea what the past few years have been like, and just knows me as this little girl whose hair he cut a quarter of a century ago.

I am in a much better mood today than I had been the last 10 days or so. Up until Friday, the pain/discomfort in my left foot had not abated and was affecting my mobility to the point where I was seriously weighing the pros/cons of amputation. It sounds drastic but the possibility of being pain-free in that area outweighed the potential downsides of such a procedure/life. Obviously, this is something that will require considerable thought and consultation.

At the suggestion of a friend, I arranged to get an ultrasound done here in Hong Kong, to see if there were blood clots in my leg. Negative. Which is good, I guess, but it does mean the issue with my foot remains a bit of a mystery. The sensation is hard to describe, but it feels a bit like a giant lead weight, very little ankle mobility, swollen, but imagine standing on a cold metal floor all the time and feeling the heat being conducted away all the time. I also went to see a PT to help get fitted with diabetic circulation socks (I did a bit of reading and felt like I might benefit from such socks on the plane ride back), and to help with my golfer's elbow, which is still bugging me. Surprisingly, the visit to the PT helped my foot tremendously! He manipulated the joint a bit, said he felt quite a bit of fluid around there...oh my goodness, it was like night and day! I may have sprained my ankle without knowing it and the swelling may have caused the incredible discomfort. Anyway, I'll be going back again on Monday and Tuesday before I take off for the States on Wednesday.

This was my first real experience with healthcare in Hong Kong as an adult. Holy shit, it makes the US healthcare system look like even more of a shit-show than it already is. After doing some reading early Friday morning, I asked my Mum if she could contact her doctor(s) and arrange for me to get an ultrasound, and also see a PT. I was able to see the GP (that's what we call General Practitioners/Internal Medicine/PCP doctors here) that Friday afternoon, get my ultrasound done immediately after my appointment at the clinic across the road, and see the PT late that afternoon. Payment is out of pocket. The offices/clinics are immaculate, the staff are efficient and competent. I was seriously impressed. In the U.S., the system is so broken, doctors are so overworked and rushed. Here, I was the one getting antsy with the GP; I was like, erm, is there any more information you need from me, can I go? Don't get me wrong, I am super thankful for the surgeries I received in the U.S...but in terms of supporting care, I feel like my experience in America has been somewhat lacking. I feel that getting treatment in the U.S. is such a pain in the ass that one feels inclined to self-diagnose and self-treat their medical issues rather than seek help. Also, it seems that people here are healthier in general. I have yet to see an obese, even fat, person here. Seriously.

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