Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Matilda Hospital

Recently we found ourselves, with zero desire, some place entirely new. With Royce in pain and suffering through a high fever, she was admitted to Matilda Hospital last Friday night. Chest x-rays immediately confirmed our doctor’s suspicion that she had pneumonia, a secondary bacterial infection. As our doctor sketched out the most probably option- a week in the hospital- Tori and Adam dissolved into tears. We accepted the situation, checked into our private room, tried to call Phil, got an IV started and immediately felt better. We give Dr. Thondup all credit for catching this infection and medicating it effectively. We have known him over a year and always liked him but now love him. He is a pretty relaxed man. I called him the wrong name for over a year and he never corrected me. When I finally corrected myself, he said whatever, I knew you were talking to me. I just heard a rumor that he a first cousin to the Dali Lama. Regardless, he has been a blessing to our family this week.

Royce’s hospital is a small beautiful institution on top of Mount Kellet, very near the Peak, an old aristocratic neighborhood in Hong Kong and the highest point on the island. The hospital has wonderful views on all sides of the South China Sea, particularly the Lamma Channel with all of its shipping traffic. As we were full time at the hospital for 4 days and nights and then out patients for a couple more days, we learned the hospital is 100 years old. It was established by Granville Sharp in honor of his wife Matilda Lincoln, both residents of the colony from 1858 onwards. The hospital has survived financial crisis, World War II (the director of the hospital died in the Stanley prison camp during the war) and typhoons. Its directive was to promote the happiness of the patient rather than the glory of medicine. We can definitely say that the hospital is succeeding in its mission. The hospital and its room were beautiful. Food brought up from one of the fairly swank downtown hotels. Pilates classes offered daily. I commonly slipped and said the “hotel” rather than the “hospital” when talking to friends on the phone. All kids speak of it fondly and in the same breath as our trip to Thailand last year.

Once checked in, things with Royce quickly got better. We were soon almost equally concerned about Adam’s continual pulling emergency cords as we were about Royce. While Royce’s news improved, news around us worsened. Hong Kong , and all of south east Asia, is experiencing a hard flu season. Newspapers are full of bad news, including two recent deaths. Some folks say the fear is starting to reach the SARS epidemic situation of 2003. Despite Royce having tested negative for the flu, staff kept coming in and asking us avian flu related questions. I was asked multiple times if Royce worked in a lab. If I wasn’t so grateful that she was getting good care, I might have pointed out that she doesn’t hold down any regular job yet, not even preschool quite frankly. Adam did pipe in and tell the nurses how he loves to eat eggs and he eats a lot of them. No one even laughed.

All in all, Royce was a trooper during this less than ideal Hong Kong moment. She had no problem not dressing, not combing her hair and reading books in bed all day. She explored the entire room and loved the fact that the room had a television (we don’t watch much at home). She welcomed her visitors. Her first words out of her mouth one morning were “Is this the day the Pelayos are coming to see me?” And she kept her sense of humor. At night as she walked with her IV to the bed, she said “tonight you don’t have to tuck me in. Just plug me in!” Well, I hope we are turning the lights out on this entire episode but not without renewed respect for all that Dr. Thondup and Matilda Hospital do every day and night


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